Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

What Is God Doing?: Week 1 | Day 5

Who acts in mission? Not us, as we might often think, but God. Br. Jim Woodrum encourages us – before looking to begin acting in mission – to first look around us and see what God has been doing in and around our lives.

Question: Where do you see God at work?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Write a Letter to God


Transcript: Well, often when we think of the work of mission, we think that we have to act and through our action, God responds, and actually, that’s flipped.  God actually has set things in motion and we respond with what God is doing.  It’s been that way since the beginning of time.  In Genesis, we read that God set the world in the motion.  He said, “Let there be,” and there was, and it was good.  God established a covenant with Abraham.  God reached out to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.  And we as Christians believe that God actually entered into our human condition in the person of Jesus Christ to heal all that has separated us from God and each other.

So the mission of God has already begun, and our job is to then participate in that mission.  But the first thing that we have to do before we can participate is to discern in our lives what God is doing.  What has God been doing in the world? What is God doing in our communities? And in our lives? And perhaps in the lives of our family?  So when thinking about, and praying with, participating in God’s mission, maybe you could ask yourself: “Where do I see God at work?”

– Br. Jim Woodrum

Question: Where do you see God at work?

1-letterfromgodWeek 1 Activity: Write a Letter to God
Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God.  What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

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37 Comments

  1. Susan on March 3, 2017 at 22:38

    When there is a storm during the day, I am in aw of the beauty of the formation of the storm, because I know or feel that He has a hand in this. I find myself praying to Him during a storm, I feel His presents around me as if He is talking to me. I burn palms and feel he is protecting me and all who pray to Him.

  2. Stan on March 3, 2017 at 22:08

    I am in agreement with Gwedhen. Things need to get worse before they can get better. I think that God’s work isn’t always necessarily what we think is “good”. I see the world turning upside down, yet I watch “everyday” people banding together more than ever to try to make things “right”. I certainly can’t pretend to see God’s plan, but I do know that the greatest acts of human “Godliness” are always in response to “bad things”. And I’m seeing more of that now than ever …

  3. Lisa on March 3, 2017 at 01:18

    I see God at work in the myriad ways that ordinary people across this country have responded to words and acts of intolerance and bigotry – protest marches, donations to religions that are under attack, interfaith meetings and dialogues, and extra, intentional greetings and conversation with people who are “other”. I see God at work in cities that have declared themselves sanctuary cities. I see God at work when successful athletes thank their single moms for raising them to be responsible, hard-working adults despite difficult circumstances. I see God at work whenever one young child consoles another who is hurt or sad, and when children remind their parents to pick up litter or to recycle.

  4. Patricia Rowell on March 3, 2017 at 00:38

    I see God at work in nature everyday. As we humans come into contact with God’s great creation, we are calmed and spiritually fed by God. I also see God in the working of those people who reach out to victims of violence, hatred and harm to others. The faces of the victims of these tragedies show to me their search for the help God has promised all of us. God only asks us to open our eyes to see and our hearts to love and care about all in His creation.

  5. gwedhen nicholas on March 2, 2017 at 19:20

    I see God at work in the Church. I think that the seeming downward spiral of churches is an indication of Gods’ plans for reformation. Things need to get worse before they can get better; order out of chaos, as in the beginning. Our society is breaking down because of bad choices on our behalf. God will use these bad choices and the resulting chaos, to build something better; to build a new society…one that values human relationships and God. People are crying out for desperately for Christian Spirituality, even as they deny it. Gwedhen

  6. brent on March 2, 2017 at 18:17

    God is saying “Feed my sheep,” care for the helpless and needy, take better care of the created world. We humans are an ornery bunch–so much resistance! God is asking us, asking me to melt the hardness in my own heart, our hearts, with love, and then try to do the same for other people. Big job!

  7. Kathy on March 2, 2017 at 17:36

    I see God at work most definitely in our small parish. It is a very welcoming family that does much outreach and truly cares about ALL people. There is an energy for growth and inclusive unity along with many prayers for divine direction.

  8. Fay Jones on March 2, 2017 at 16:53

    At the beginning of this course, and again during the Ash Wednesday service yesterday, I said my goal is transformation. God has already started working that in me; I have been called to jury duty in District Court (Criminal) and was very conflicted about what to do if seated on a “death penalty” case. Through conversation with my priest, who led me through the Episcopal way of decision making – Scripture, Tradition, Reason – I have resolved that conflict for myself. As he put it, when I entered the conversation, my conflict appeared to be between my heart and my head. With the guidance of Holy Scripture, research of the General Convention Archives, and my own knowledge of life. I have been able to accept Jesus’ teaching that violence is always the wrong way, while in this broken world, our decisions must temper justice with mercy. May God now grant me the grace and wisdom to live into this transformation!

  9. Carol on March 2, 2017 at 15:25

    For me, I see Him “at work” where I work. Spending the majority of waking hours at my place of employment, certain people seem to be put in my path. There is often a recurring theme to these not so random meetings of the mind and spirit. I am glad that I am in the right place at the right time in this person’s life, and they in mine. Coincidence? No. His work? Yes.

  10. Verlinda on March 2, 2017 at 15:13

    I see God at work in the people I encounter every day–whether in person or virtually–as they express God’s grace, love and care in ways both large and small. I see God at work in the beauties of the natural world, and I see God at work in my life if I slow down and take the time to realize God’s active presence.

  11. Jessie Mantle on March 2, 2017 at 14:53

    I see god’s love in the people who thoughtfully and carefully go about their daily lives with courage and caring as shown in simple daily acts of people who reach out to help a neighbor, who go to work faithfully every day, who do heroic acts such as rescue a drowning child or someone in a house on fire, who see a need and form a group/association etc to help solve the problem. I see God in action in
    leaders who give their lives to serve others across the communities and countries of the world and often they do this under conditions of conflict, frustration, and personal risk to their lives and reputations. I feel God acting in my life when I am nudged to take some act that expresses love such as giving flowers to my ailing neighbor. Too often I ignore the nudge or I don’t even feel it but when it happens I know it is not me directing things but rather God and I together.

    I don’t understand the evil things that happen in the world but I don’t want to believe that God is involved in that. I have no explanation but I guess I must trust that maybe it is not for us to know the answer to this mystery.

  12. Louanna on March 2, 2017 at 14:32

    Well, I’ve been writing the “Letter to God” for several days now. It didn’t lend itself to small compass, but this query relates directly to what I’ve been mulling over in my “letter”. I don’t often wonder what God’s grand plan is, but I do know that my own involvement in what he seems to be up to in the world is much easier to see when I’m in Mexico than when I’m in the US. Here, there is on every street corner a reminder of needs unmet. Nearly all of them are things I can help with, but selection is necessary if I’m to actually be helpful and not just in the way. What happens is that God then dumps some job upon me, or offers an opportunity that cannot be ignored by me, or puts me in a position of facing needs that I have workable answers to. I then feel closer to my creator, more at peace with myself.

    In my hometown in the US, there are many people with resources and kind hearts to serve the palpable needs. Here the needs are greater than the resources available to meet them. So I find myself bringing the Word to members of the two mission congregations I serve, I find myself expediting the help to them coming from churches in the US, I find myself an advocate for the poor, and I don’t feel that I am “lady bountiful”. I feel I am an instrument of God, and I just need to keep an open eye to see what challenge he has for me next.

  13. Patsy on March 2, 2017 at 14:08

    I see. GOD at work in a friend who goes to foreign lands using his engineering skills to bring water or electricity to small villages in need. I see GOD at work when church members comfort each other, provide food for those in need, accept people as they are, and when we share the eucharistic feast.

  14. Stan Lewis on March 2, 2017 at 13:41

    When I think of God at work in the world, I think about the power behind the fact that isGod in us. I believe that all of us are born with goodness at our very core–our soul, that place where the Creator dwells. He made us, and yet we are a part of God. Blessed with the gift of freewill, we have the choice of living in love or being unconnected to God–that good part of ourselves, our core, our true identity. I am guilty of this. However, when I see compassion in the acts of others; when I see courage to make a change in the face of injustice; when I see kindness, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice in the actions of others, I see God at work in the world and I am reminded that I have Love at my core as well, and that I am capable of such things.

  15. Cherie Renae on March 2, 2017 at 13:03

    I love this. We aren’t necessarily called to begin a new thing, but to jump on the bandwagon of what God has already started. We are called to pay attention, to see God working in the world around us, and to be helpers in that work. Thank you for this perspective!

  16. Anne Green on March 2, 2017 at 12:30

    God is all around in the blue sky, the bright sun even though it is March! Hard to believe it is Lent! God is in the high pitched voices of the children in the neighboring daycare, in my great granddaughters excitement as she told me about seeing Pippy Longstocking with her class and how everybody liked it and could I please get her the book so she can read it; in my husbands loving help; in all my granddaughters helping and loving care for us both; in my daughters loving care and concern for us both. God is everywhere, everyday in every way.

  17. Bryan Cook on March 2, 2017 at 10:44

    I must admit to be at a loss. Yes, I can hear God in my heart and soul in many circumstances, through prayer but also when experiencing life and nature…..He comforts me and does answer my calls for help provided I put aside my pride and follow his will. But I cannot believe that He inflicts all the suffering and pain I see around me just to strengthen my conviction in Him. There is a Devil, an Evil, who metaphorically sits on my shoulder (and suspect all others) and urges me to take pathways of sin, self abuse and disregard for others. Is that Devil me exercising my selfwill which God gave me? Adam ate the forbidden fruit and I know that at times I am doing the same. I just cannot hide behind the thruth that Jesus was sacrificed to forgive my sins and so I am at liberty to just continue to sin. I guess part of the answer is to have faith that God’s Will is righteous, though sometimes it is hard to believe.

  18. Michael on March 2, 2017 at 10:43

    I see God working in others but am lost as to what God wants from me and how I am to fit into his plan. Sometimes I think I get glimpses but the idea evaporate

    • Valerie on March 4, 2017 at 17:51

      God works through people and we don’t need a personal message to know what to do. He’s given it to everyone — Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. It can be as simple as a phone call to a shut-in, offering a word of encouragement to someone who is going through a bad time or volunteering for some church or community outreach project. No one can do it all, but everyone can do something. Just get started and God will God will put opportunities in your path.

  19. Susannah on March 2, 2017 at 10:37

    I see God at work in my work as a pediatrician. I see parents bettering themselves so they can take care of their children. I see children heal from emotional and physical trauma. I see children love their new siblings. I see nurses show compassion.

  20. Rhode on March 2, 2017 at 09:41

    I see God working in the heart of my 24 yr old son as he struggles to find his voice and a real job. I see God working in my husbands heart as he helps people as best as he can find homes and jobs. I see God working in my neighborhood as we share each others sorrows and joys and offer prayers for our struggles. I see God working in my little church as our Pastor and his assistant faithfully bring us into worship each Sunday and fill other days with mission and purpose within our community. I see God working very hard to comfort people in our state as jobs dry up and 30 percent have left to go South. I see God working in this deeply divided country as people struggle to discern truth. I see God working all over the world listening and answering and watching shifts happen that will ultimately set the stage for Christ’s return.

  21. Enid B. Bourner on March 2, 2017 at 09:07

    I see God at work in creation, the sunrise, the sunset and in people the kind acts they do, the caring and sharing that I see in other people.

  22. Bonnie Baird on March 2, 2017 at 09:00

    I think, when I look at the world, at my local community, at my life and the life of my family that God is upsetting the status quo in a big way right now.

    In my local community a number of the clergy are moving to other postings, leaving parishes behind looking for new ministers. The ministerial I have been a part of is dramatically changing. It has worked well in the past, bringing together Pentecostals, Baptists, Roman Catholics United Church, Salvation Army, Disciples of Christ, and Anglicans in community prayer events. What will become of it?

    In my own life, I am finishing up in a beloved parish soon and heading into retirement. I don’t know what my future looks like at all. How do I redefine myself separate from my role as fulltime rector? What surprises does God have in store?

    In the geopolitical world, major shifts are happening. Democracy is being redefined by various leaders. Fear seems everywhere and the old standards seem up for grabs. What is God doing through all of this?

    I remain in discernment, waiting God’s whispers, waiting to see patterns, waiting on my brothers and sisters in Christ and of other faiths, confident in God’s purpose.

    • Fr John E Harris-White on March 3, 2017 at 03:44

      Bonnie,

      Our futures are in God’s hand. I have been retired for many years, now in my eighties. God will lead you, but do not fall into the trap of being busy busy.

      Retirement is a time for yourself, time of prayer, a time of meditation A time to put into practise hose teachings you have given to others, now to yourself.

      A time of preparing for your journey into God.

      Thankfully that time is in His hands, not ours.

      God Bless you, and those who love you.

      Fr John
      West Lothian
      Scotland

      .

  23. Suzanne Haraburd on March 2, 2017 at 08:39

    I find it easiest to answer this question in the past tense: what has God done? In the present tense I need to express myself more tentatively: God seems to be at work in my life helping me to heal old wounds, remove erroneous thoughts, so to love others more truly. Why the tentativeness? Perhaps lack of trust in God, or myself.

    • David Cranmer on March 2, 2017 at 23:53

      I agree that we are more tentative about the present. I don’t think tentativeness is always a sign of lack of trust. It often is only after we have some distance from an event that we can see how God was at work in that event.

  24. Lucia Rawls Schoelwer on March 2, 2017 at 07:12

    I live on a peaceful creek that spills into the busy waterways of the Chesapeake Bay. In the morning I have my coffee in the Creek Room, observing God’s majesty – the rippling water that is home to fish, oysters, and crabs that feed our area; birds small and large getting their breakfast; the sea grass gently swaying with the breeze; the magnificent trees that surround us; the flowers that are blooming already because of our unseasonable warm spell last week. I look at this and say thank you to God for creating such a world. Now it is our job to not destroy what God has created.

  25. Beverly Cone on March 2, 2017 at 07:08

    I am practicing Centering Prayer, with a goal to LISTEN to God. I speak to Him In prayer, but find when I stop to listen during my CP time, things in my life become more clear about what God is doing in my life. I am beginning a new project to help people in Assisted Living, and the ideas surprise me every day – all unplanned by me!!

    • Valerie on March 2, 2017 at 14:56

      I think the key is that you started something and God is responding and showing you where to go with the project. I believe God is in control but, for me, that doesn’t mean we sit around and wait for God. He expects us to be active and, when we step out in faith to do His work in the world, he responds by helping us, guiding us and giving us what we need. Faith is not passive. Prayer and the Word help us to discern what God wants us to do and everyone has something He can do to further the Kingdom, regardless of how small. His power working within us collectively is ‘more than we can ask or imagine.’

      • Beverly Cone on March 3, 2017 at 06:11

        Thank you. I agree that we need to be active in our faith. I’m listening for the road to follow, but definitely am reaching out and trying .

  26. Molly Nettles on March 2, 2017 at 06:16

    When I wake in the morning, all through the day, when I go to bed at night, when I sleep. God is in me. Not with me, but in me. It is up to me to recognize this and be thankful!

  27. Fr John E Harris-White on March 2, 2017 at 06:07

    Again thank you dear Brother for gift to us this morning.

    The booklet has just arrived here in Scotland, and contains such wise words. To share with colleagues and friends.

    Your reminder to us that we are agents in God’s mission, is so right and powerful. His mission is shown to us out of our time in prayer, and in silence before Him.

    How much we and His church need to learn this lesson.
    Synod would be so different if the speeches were God centred. Less of I, more of HIm.

    Thank you God.

    Fr John

  28. Kristi on March 2, 2017 at 05:43

    I think god shows daily pain all around the world in all types of communities as an opportunity to be an active participants in healing and mending through acts of love and compassion which can transcend political and economic barriers
    I also think god shows us incredible beauty in the world every day and it’s our responsibility to notice it and react. It can be so easy to take typical things for granted and simply not notice because we are so wrapped up in our own little worlds
    But the simple act of seeing what god puts in front of us every day as a gift should be savored and used to move us forward in a loving and nurturing spirit

  29. Ruth West on February 25, 2017 at 20:37

    I often use hymns as my conversation with God. There are SO many which speak to Him from my heart. I pray them as I sing them. Thanks!

    • Laura on March 2, 2017 at 11:18

      Ruth, often times I turn to the hymns as prayer, especially when I run out of words. Thank you .

      • Beverly Cone on March 4, 2017 at 09:02

        I rely on hymns a lot also – not only the words, but the comfort of the tunes. I play them on my piano often.

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