I took up running marathons a few years ago, and as I train I link a GPS watch to a heart-rate monitor (HRM) on my chest.
About a year ago, I lost the original watch and replaced it, hoping the new one might fire up with the HRM if I hit the same buttons — no dice. So I just grumbled a bit and trained without it.
Many months later, I happened upon the manual buried in my closet. Why not take a look? I discovered that all I needed was a kind of reset on the watch, and voilà: HRM connected. I felt like I had just won the lottery.
Weird, I know, but it was like an unexpected gift had been waiting there all along. I had missed out for so long because it didn’t work the way I expected it to, and because it was easier to go on without it than try a little harder to make the link.
I’m sure you have had similar experiences, some trivial like this one, and some much more profound. Maybe you have even received a gift of momentary connection with the heart of God, as if for a flash in time you really knew him, and could almost physically feel the embrace of the holy. Maybe after not having that connection for a long time, a kind of spiritual reset brought it back, and you realized that God had been there all along.
How do we miss the presence of God?
Do we expect to always feel it in the same way and give up when it doesn’t “work” that way? Do we forget to “check the manual,” to take up and read, to tune our hearts to hear the voice of God?
Perhaps we simply accept life detached from God as good enough, because it is easier not to make the effort. But life disconnected from the heart of God is life without knowledge of our own hearts.
Fortunately, God continually offers gifts, especially the mercy revealed in Christ, through whom God is reconciling everything to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). And fortunately, if we are open to it when the moment comes, God himself will reveal his gifts to us (Ephesians 2:8).
They are always unexpected, as we experience now in Christmas — God in flesh, a helpless child as the hope of the world — and as we will soon experience in Easter — the Son of God crucified for us, and taking up his life again to raise us into it with him.
God is infinitely more than a monitor of our hearts; he is source and summit of their desire.
But this silly analogy led me to some critical questions: This Christmas, did we receive the real gifts that God offered us? As we enter Lent and Easter, is our life really good enough without renewing our devotion to him?
Let us make the effort to open anew our hearts and minds to recognize and receive the boundless gifts of God’s love and mercy.
Ken Jarman is a scientist at Pacific Northwest Laboratory and member of Christ the King Catholic Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.