“I just don’t feel like God is anywhere near me lately.”
“Sometimes I wonder if God actually cares.”
“Where is God right now?”
When any of these thoughts and feelings are brought to me by a directee, I will frequently suggest they try an ancient practice called examen. Examen is the habit of noticing God in the everyday moments of life. Establishing a habit takes discipline and examen is no different.
However, before you give up and tell me that discipline just isn’t in your personality make-up, may I suggest a few simple ways to practice examen?
- Use the phone on your smart camera to snap a picture of moments of beauty, whether they are nature in bloom or people living love. Write a quick caption to remind yourself of what spoke to you in the moment. Then, once a week or so, look back through them and see all the moments that God was near.
- Every night as you are falling asleep, ask yourself the simple question, “Was there a moment when I thought about or noticed God today?” If the answer is no, ask God to give you a moment the next day. If the answer is yes, offer thanks that God came near.
- Keep a journal. This can be as simple as a notebook where you record the everyday, mundane things about your life. The ‘soul training’ moment, as James Bryan Smith calls them, comes in looking back over them to remember with gratitude.
- As I am getting ready each morning, my ‘to-do’ list is running through my head. Harness this opportunity to ask God to be revealed as you go about your day. The next morning as you review another day’s list, it is likely that moments from the day before will replay with new lenses.
The foundational truth at play in examen is that God is in every moment of every day. The air that we breathe is God, the water and food that we take in is God, the beauty of the world around us is God, the people that love are God.
Where is God for you right now?