Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Secret Ingredients

Secret Ingredients

This is the best 8:18 moment in a century.

Today is 8/18/18, posted at 8:18 PM. And it’s my birthday. Too bad I’m not 18 today

I will never have a more numerically perfect platform on which to post. It feels right to talk about what goes into a true 8:18 experience. Here are three essential ingredients to living more attentively.



            “he dawns on them like the morning light,
                    like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning…” (2 Samuel 23:4)

The more I observe, the more indebted I am to light. So much of what catches my eye is produced or enhanced by it. The other night, while my wife and I were having dinner in a restaurant’s dockside seating, the sun was approaching the horizon. The iconic gull on a piling grabbed my attention because of the dramatic light backlighting it, sparkling on the water. (Those “rocks” at the bottom are the guests at a nearby table I awkwardly shot over!)

I am enthralled by the interplay of light and shadow, which constantly changes.


            Three things are too wonderful for me;
                       four I do not understand… (Proverbs 30:18)

When I set out for a walk in a new place, I pray, “Lord, show me what you want me to see.” Then I’m filled with anticipation, even delight as I look around me, camera in hand. I watch for anything out of the ordinary – a splash of color, a contrast of shapes, an interesting texture. Best of all, I’m alert for human surprises (but not too surprising, God willing!), when someone does or says something to make me ponder.

Surprise -- and its sibling, wonder -- take time to develop. The more we train ourselves to recognize beauty and pattern, the more frequently uncommon things pop up. Occasionally, those unexpected moments are obvious, like the wild pony that came up to me on Assateague Island this week. Most of the time, though, they are camouflaged in the midst of everyday life.


“…look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you.” (Ezekiel 40:4)

When I start with a prayer, then the surprise that happens is not just coincidence, but an answer. It opens a conversation. My musing shifts from internal to interpersonal. I sense the Spirit suggesting a train of thought, using what I’m seeing to stretch me, to teach me. For instance, as my friend, Bill, and I staged the still life above, we noticed that the pearls we just randomly added became the focal point. I see that as a reminder of the pearls of insight I gain writing this blog, as well as the “pearl of great price” they point to.

This is my goal as I look forward to my remaining years: to be more aware of Christ in my life from minute to minute, opening a connection from the seen to the unseen and keeping it open throughout each day.

8:18 is helping me to do that.

I hope it’s doing the same for you.

Lord, we are humbled that you want to engage us in a conversation every day. Open our eyes and ears to truly notice your presence in the everyday moments of our lives. Help us to set our hearts upon all that you show us.

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to comment on the blog, or tell me about your own “found pearls.”

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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