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The fences in our way

The fences in our way

What barriers keep us from seeing God in the world around us?

It’s a question that is running through my mind as I speak to a group of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship students at Susquehanna University. They invited me to speak, and I’m taking this opportunity to share lessons I’ve learned from this 8:18 endeavor.


My key point is that God wants to have a dialogue with us. As important as our daily devotional time is, the Lord doesn’t want to be relegated to it only. He wants us to tune into his voice throughout the day as he uses the world around us to remind us of eternal truths. How amazing is that!

I take them through the process that led to the post, The Art of Looking Up. This is the easiest talk I’ve ever given, since it flows completely from my own experience. And along the way, I share five steps to having seeing eyes, hearing ears, and engaged memories (Mark 8:18).

The students are, thankfully, engaged. So I ask them, “Which one on this list is hardest for you?” Not surprisingly, the answers seem to center on the struggle to invest time -- to slow down, to observe, to tie thoughts back to Scripture. Later, one of them tells me about how hard it is not to fill quieter moments with checking his phone. A couple more admit to hectic schedules.

These are our barriers, then, to engaging with God. Busyness. Distractedness. They seem so dominant, when in reality, they’re like the tiny fence I found on a lawn during one of my recent walks. We let them unnecessarily intimidate us.

Not Lauren, though. She eagerly approaches me afterward to tell of recent times she slowed down to notice the beauty around her – even just on the campus. A photography course was the initial impetus, but I can tell by her excitement that she is wired to observe. My talk has validated that wiring. She’ll need to develop this skill, but I sense she won’t be easily deterred by the demands of a busy life.

A few days later, the IVCF staff worker for the group (and a good friend) sends me a photo he took while jogging and, half-jokingly (or was it all-jokingly?) confesses that at the time, he didn’t pause for “prayer and reflection.”

I text him back that I know the question that this picture ultimately points to.

Why didn’t the chicken cross the road?

Father, water the seed that you planted in those receptive students. And in the readers of this blog. Draw us all into a more dynamic dialogue with you every day. Don’t let the tiny fences of busyness and distraction keep us from engaging with you through the small wonders you have laced into the world around us.

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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