Sunday, August 14, 2016

God in the Flesh

I’ve had many experiences in my life when things that happened, not by my own doing, resulted in fortuitous consequences. Some would call these instance fate; others destiny; and yet others coincidence. But to me these were examples of God working in my life.

One of the most obvious examples (at least to me) was how I met my wife Suzy. Back in my college days in the mid-80’s I had a couple of close friends, Dan and Mark, with whom I used to hang out with all the time. Much of our relationship revolved around music, whether it be listening to the latest album from Level 42 (Running in the Family) or Peter Gabriel (So) or going to shows at the University at Buffalo Springfest and other venues.

Mark moved to California in the late ‘80’s and met his wife. In 1992, Mark’s sister was hosting a party for Mark, his wife, and their infant son. Dan invited me and I didn’t hesitate to accept. Dan also invited Suzy. She and Mark were lifelong friends having met when they lived in the same neighborhood when they were little kids.

Mark’s sister lived in a small town about 20 miles or so East of Buffalo. This was before GPS so I’m amazed I even found her home. It was the day before Memorial Day and I just planned on going to say a quick hello and then leave.

When I arrived, I walked into the house and was greeted by Mark’s mother Mary Ellen. She immediately introduced me to Suzy. The ironic thing is that, for whatever reason, Dan wasn’t there. If he had been I probably never would have spent any time talking to Suzy. To add to this, Suzy drove the entire way from North Buffalo on a donut spare.

We began to make small talk and she asked what I did for a living. I was actually having a job interview for a counseling position at the Buffalo General Hospital Alcoholism Clinic in two days so I said “I’m and alcoholism counselor.”

“That’s interesting she replied, my father is a psychiatrist.” I then told her that I had the interview scheduled and she informed me that she was the Human Resources/Operations Manager for a local retail department store. I proceeded to ask for some interview tips. And with that the relationship began. I can’t recall exactly how long we spoke but suffice it to say it was a considerable amount of time. And the rest, as they say, is history. 24-plus years later we still love talking to each other.

And that, in my eyes, is how it works. God is manifested in so many ways in our lives through our relationships with others. Have you ever had something happen that involves someone else and your life takes a new direction? I believe that the people in our lives are here (or were) for a reason. Of course, it’s easier to look backwards and connect the dots. But it is also possible to open up our minds to the possibility that right now the people in our lives are here to walk with us on life’s journey and it’s not meant to be walked alone.

The components in the wellness equation can often overlap. I believe this to be the case for that of the social and spiritual areas, whether it be more formally, like one’s worship community, or simply through the relationships we have with others in a broader spiritual context, God is present in all these relationships. The key is being aware of how God is working in these connections.

The concept of social capital reinforces this importance. The broader and more healthy our relationships the better our quality of life. It is through these associations that we are able to live life more fully. And in the same respect, these associations can help manifest God’s presence in our lives.

Think about your life and the people who have been present. There is something to be learned in each one of these relationships. These lessons can be bitter, sweet, or a combination of both. But in the end we can take something away from them to help us grow to become the person that God wants us to be.

As I’ve said, I’ve had many experiences that contribute to my beliefs and I cannot deny God’s presence in these moments. They have, and continue, to help me grow and feel the movement of the Spirit. And for this I am eternally grateful.

“Fortune smiled upon me in my hour of need
I was naked and you came with clothes for me
After years of broken homes, broken hearts and broken dreams
Someone's smiled upon me in my hour of need”

In My Hour of Need - YouTube
The Christians (1990)


  1. YES! I truly believe that Jesus is not the only "incarnation" in our lives, but, if we pay attention, everyone is an expression of God in the flesh!