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Aug 20, 2023 1528 Denise Jasek
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What’s the lesson for today?

  1. Get a hands-on experience on how God can use the stuff of earth to communicate the stuff of heaven

When I walked out my front door to bring in the garbage cans one day, I stopped short in fear. There was a fresh snakeskin draped over the drain cover next to the house. I immediately called out to my husband, since I have this thing with snakes. 

When it became clear that this was only snakeskin and there were no snakes nearby, I relaxed. and asked God what lesson He was trying to teach me that day.

What’s the whole point?

I’m what teachers call a kinesthetic learner. I learn best by moving or interacting with things. Lately, I’ve noticed that God often reveals Himself to me through material objects. This divine pedagogy is even alluded to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities.” (CCC, 54)

For instance, God sent a smoking fire pot and flaming torch to Abraham, a wrestling angel to Jacob, and a burning bush to Moses. God sent a dove carrying an olive branch and then a rainbow to Noah, some dew to Gideon, and a raven with bread and meat to Elijah.

The God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, and the God of Moses is also our God. Why wouldn’t the God of all creation use the visible, tangible matter of earth to communicate invisible and intangible realities of Heaven?

Fr. Jacques Philippe has written, “As creatures of flesh and blood, we need the support of material things in order to attain spiritual realities. God knows this, and it is what explains the whole mystery of the Incarnation” (Time for God, p. 58).

God can send us messages via a license plate or a bumper sticker. Last week the words on the back of a truck, “keep moving,” resonated with me. They reminded me of the homily insight I heard that very morning — that we are called to keep sharing the Gospel.

God might also use nature to teach us. While picking cherries recently, I was reminded of how the harvest is abundant, and the laborers are few. A stormy day might bring to mind that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). A beautiful bird or gorgeous sunset might be God’s way of lifting our sagging spirit.

Whenever I am particularly surprised by something, I try to ask God what lesson He might be teaching me. The other night, for instance, when I was debating about getting out of bed to check on my daughter, a prayer card honoring St. Monica, the patron saint of mothers, suddenly fell off my dresser. I immediately got up and checked on her. Or the time when I woke up in the wee hours of the night and felt called to pray a rosary on behalf of a recently deceased family member and was delighted to see the most glorious shooting star.

Sometimes God sends His message through other people. How many times have you received a card, phone call, or text from someone that was just the encouragement you needed?

One summer, while on a bike ride mulling over the possibility of discontinuing my Bible study, I ran into a friend. Out of the blue, she brought up the fact that she planned to keep her Bible study going because once you stop something, it is very hard to get it going again.

God might also use concrete objects to discipline us or help us grow in our discipleship.

One morning I stumbled across three large nails. They were identical, but I had found them at three different places: a gas station, my driveway, and down the street. By the third nail, I stopped and asked God what He was trying to tell me and realized I was in need of repentance about something in my life.

I’ll never forget the time I stepped outside, and instantly a fly flew into my eye. I’ll let you use your imagination for that lesson learned.

Learning Style

God teaches us all the time, and He accommodates all types of learners. What works for one person may not work for another. Some will hear God more clearly at Mass, others at Eucharistic Adoration, when reading the Bible, or in their private prayer time.  However, God is always at work and continually teaching us through our thoughts, feelings, images, Scripture passages, people, imagination, words of knowledge, music, and each event of our day.

I personally appreciate it when God communicates through physical objects, as I tend to remember the lesson better that way. You might be wondering what I learned from the snakeskin. It brought the following scripture to mind: People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17).

Holy Spirit, help us to be more aware of any lessons You might be teaching us today.

 

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Denise Jasek

Denise Jasek has served the Catholic Church for many years. She is currently a music minister, mom of five mostly grown children, and lives in Ohio with her beloved husband Chris.

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