Remember the childhood game of “I Spy”? Someone chooses an object in the room and tells just the color: “I spy something red.” Then everyone else tries to guess the item by its color only.
The remarkable thing is that as soon as the color red is mentioned, all the red things in the room start grabbing your eye. You may have been in the room many times over multiple years and never noticed a single red object, but now dozens are so obvious. The point is, now you are looking for red where before you weren’t.
We see what we look for
This same principle is true for “spying” God at work in our lives. We see him when we look for him. So often we will pray about an issue or problem, but later, when things are resolved, our response is, “Whew, so glad that worked out!” However, if we are praying and then watching we see that things didn’t just “work out” but that God worked it out on our behalf. We “spy” God answering our prayers.
One time a group of friends and I were doing a Bible study on the attributes (qualities or characteristics) of God. Each week we would look carefully in Scriptures at an aspect of God’s character. Like calling out colors such as “red” or “green,” we would focus on God’s “goodness” or “power.” Then throughout the week we would stay alert to “spy” God’s goodness or power at work around us.
Our reports to each other each week were remarkable. “I saw God’s power when my boss changed my workload.” “God gave me an opportunity for a long awaited visit with a dear friend. How kind God is!”
Scripture tells us that getting to know God better and better isn’t a spectator sport. We see his working in our lives when we actively pursue him. We understand his ways more clearly when we watch for him with great expectation. As he told his people when they prepared to enter the promised land, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV). In other words, you will find God at work in the day-to-day routines of your life if you watch diligently for him to act.
We watch to worship and to witness
Unlike the children’s game where the goal is just to spot the object someone has in mind, our spiritual spying has profound purposes. First, we watch for God in our situations so we can thank him and worship him for what he does and who he is. When we see him in our midst we can indeed, “Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!” Psalms 150:2 ESV
Secondly, when we see that it is God who provided, directed, blessed, healed, restored… we become eyewitnesses to his goodness and can testify to others.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us… (1 John 1:1,2 ESV).
Also, as we see and declare God’s involvement in our lives, our faith is strengthened for the times when his presence is not seen as clearly. We can trust his goodness even if we don’t yet spy his works. Much of the psalms are filled with a recounting of the ways he cared for the Israelites in various situations. This gave them renewed faith and courage as they faced the unknown.
Finally, as Henry Blackaby (author of Experiencing God) admonishes, by noticing where God is at work we can then join him there. We can get on his program, fall in line with his timeframe, be about his Kingdom’s purposes.
Can you begin today to look around the familiar arenas of your life and “spy” God’s presence? How did the person you love come into your life? God brought them! How did you make it through a hard time? God carried you! How did you know the right decision to make? God guided you!
How will you bring him glory today? Spy him at work and give him praise. See his goodness and tell others. Remember his presence, and trust. Watch where he is involved and join him.