Finding God in your Lucky Charms

July 25th, 2014

A few weeks ago, I went into Walgreens to get a heating patch and some Bengay. After nearly a week of pain in my neck and shoulder and two chiropractor visits, I’d exhausted my stock of heating pads and my patience. Walgreens is supposedly at the corner of Happy and Healthy, but I entered at the corner of Argh! and I’m Going to Ruin Someone!

In fact, my mood was so dark that when I entered Walgreens, I not only didn’t notice, but didn’t care that the sun was out, the air was cool, and it was the nicest day we’d had in months.

But the bright, springy day was nothing compared to the lady behind the counter, who smiled at me big-as-life when the sliding doors opened. She asked if I needed help, and I replied, “No,” even though I’ve never had to purchase Bengay and didn’t even know where to start.

I knew my irritable state couldn’t handle very much of her ilk. “Captain Cheery over there is just a bit too much for me today,” I remember thinking to myself.

Within a few minutes, I’ve found my heating pads and Bengay and I make my way back to the counter. I tried to counter my irritability with a quick and polite, “How are you?”

I didn’t really mean it. I just wanted to fulfill my end of the Small Talk Social Contract.

But of course Captain Cheery took that as an invitation to sermonize.

I spent the next few minutes listening to her talk about how God has given us a beautiful day, how the sun and the blue sky are God’s gift to us, and how she’s grateful for his grace. You know, the usual bunnies and sunshine stuff.

I listened.


Well, to be honest, I listened more than patiently. I listened almost jealously.

I’ve never really been a person who sees God in every ray of sunshine or every bowl of Lucky Charms. I’ve never really been a person who sees the fingerprints of God every spring when the flowers wake up.

When I hear people say they see God in a sunny day, my first thought goes to the yearly cycles of nature. When I hear people talk about seeing God in their Lucky Charms, I wonder if that flippin’ leprachaun didn’t douse those marshmallows with something sinister to make them “Magically religious!” And when I hear people talk of seeing the fingerprints of God all over their lives, I think about the fact that there has never been a single instance in my life that I couldn’t explain with an appeal to something much more natural than divine intervention.

It’s not that I don’t believe. I do. I believe fervently. I believe in God and trust in Christ.

But belief has never been that easy for me.

It’s not that I doubt Captain Cheery or anyone else’s experience (Well, okay, maybe the Lucky Charms people). I’m grateful that they can see God in sunshine and rain.

It’s just that I can’t. And I’ve never really been able to do so. Faith is hard work for me. Sure, some days it’s a little harder than other days. But it’s never easy. A long time ago I had to come to terms with the fact that doubt and faith are not antithetical realities. It’s been good for me to see that, even within the Bible, there are people who seem less inclined to seeing God under every rock, and yet God still seems to work through them. One cannot read nearly half the Psalms, or Job, or Ecclesiastes without walking away with the feeling that faith is not easy for even some of the biblical writers.

And even the faith that does come to some of these biblical writers is a greyer kind of faith — in the words of Martin Marty, a “wintry” kind of faith. Instead of celebrating sunshine and flowers, these writers are crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” and “Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”

These are my people. People of faith — staunch faith — who happen to also come by faith through a difficult daily path.

On the bright side, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. There are many of us who struggle with faith, many of us who always have doubt on the horizon, who don’t need certitude to make us feel a connection with God, and who don’t need to feel a connection with God to know that God has a connection with us.

And to be honest, I’ve learned a lot by watching my fellow Christians who have the ability to see God in sunshine and flowers. I find myself quite jealous of them. And I’ve even come to appreciate the Captain Cheery here and there that God brings into my life.

So, I listened to Captain Cheery with patience. I listened with jealousy. I listened with appreciation. And I left the store praising God for the yearly seasonal cycles. I thanked God for holding the world together by the power of his word. And I thanked God that even though faith does not come easy for me, it still does come.

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