Way back in the mists of time (the seventies) before the miraculous intervention of personal gaming devices and tablet devices, when parents wanted something to keep their kids entertained on lengthy road trips in an attempt to prevent siblings from quietly kicking and poking each other when Mum wasn’t looking (honestly, I didn’t start it), a must have travel item was an Eye Spy book.
Every year my Mum and Dad would take my brother and I and travel the six hundred miles from our home in Northern Ireland to the beautiful county of Cornwall nestled at the very bottom tip of England where my Grandmother lived. It was the highlight of our year as a family.
On the lengthy car journey it took to get to our holiday destination, an Eye Spy book was one of Mum’s secret weapons in the battle against back seat boredom and the potentially perpetual stream of “Tell him to get his foot out of my face!”, “He’s looking at me!”, “He’s taking my air!”, “He’s still looking at me!” and of course the mandatory “Are we there yet?” that would inevitably ensue. As the tension from the back seat would rise and the clouds of disgruntlement begin to gather over Dad’s eyes, Mum would produce the emergency book from side pocket of the car door announcing “Let’s have a game of Eye Spy! I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…” and peace would be restored…well for ten minutes at least anyway.
I spy is a great game. My nephew and niece love to play it with us and each time we do I can’t help thinking to myself that we adults ought to be made to play it more often, because it would make each us stop and look around us more often and take more notice of our surroundings. I think it’s important to do this as often as we can. Life can drive us on at such a rapid rate that, just like travelling on the back seat of a car, our surroundings can seem like nothing more than a blur until something happens that forces us to stop and take notice. Illness, personal tragedy, the loss of a job, a broken relationship or even fatigue perhaps…these things interrupt our lives, making us feel like we’ve been left reeling at the side of the road while everyone else seems to be racing on to wherever they’re going.
So many details that we miss. Colours, sounds, feelings, smells, sensations…so many ways to experience beauty and goodness in the world that around us.
And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Isaiah 6:3 NIV
The Bible tells us that we are surrounded by the glory of God and if you’re anything like me, you don’t stop often enough to look to see if that’s true or not. In fact, if we were to use general news reports as a basis for determining whether or not the glory of God is indeed evident in the world around us, we would probably come to the conclusion that it’s nowhere to be seen. But that would be misleading, just like thinking that there’s not much else to seen when you’re fighting for space on the back seat of a car while your brother’s shoeless foot is hovering menacingly in front of your face and until your Mother intervenes with a tactical game of “I Spy”.
Life, I think, can sometimes be a bit like my Mum, desperately trying to get our attention off the things that we think are important in order to get us to look around us in a new or at least a fresh way. To see beauty in simple things…the little things…to pay more attention to life’s details and in this way help us perhaps catch a glimpse of of God. I passionately believe that if we are willing to pay attention, there’s a grand game of “I Spy” that we’re invited to participate in and which can help us to recognise the glory of God if we’re simply willing to take part in it. And all we have to do is train ourselves to stop wherever we are, and look. Not to wait for one of those major moments of crisis to dump us on the side of the road before we begin to look for God, but to begin right now to seek for God in the everyday life that surrounds us because Jesus promised that everyone who seeks…will find.