The Parables of Jesus found in the Gospels show us there is a different way to view the world we live in. Jesus uses everyday activities, events, and physical things to teach about spiritual realities. His stories of real life point to such wonderful spiritual understandings we can do on our own.
We are never truly alone on this endeavor, as the Holy Spirit guides us and gives us a supernatural vision we can use to discover more of God as we encounter Him in the natural world. Basically, the Holy Spirit enables us to see reality as a vehicle that carries our thoughts and imagination to God.
“Everything is grace” are the notable words of St. Therese of Lisieux. This can be better understood as we “unpack” what grace is. To truly understand grace, we must make a clear distinction between grace as God’s life and God’s help. The term used to clarify the grace that we call God’s life is “sanctifying grace”, which is hand delivered to us by God through the sacraments. The other type of grace, God’s help, is known as “actual grace”, which is anything that leads us to God and eventually to receiving Him in sanctifying grace.
Anything that leads us to a better relationship with Him actual grace. If we truly perceive the world around us correctly; if we look at our lives through a Godly lens, everything can lead us to this relationship with God, and therefore what St. Therese says is true.
If everything is grace, then we are never without an opportunity to think of God and be reminded of His goodness in the world. Jesus illustrates this perfectly in His parables. In fact, His stories perfectly illustrate our message as they exemplify how we must view life and our experiences.
For instance, the parable of the sower as told in Matthew 13:1-23. This story is about the activity of planting seeds, in which Jesus expresses the difficult-to-grasp reality of what happens to people when they hear the life-giving truth of the Word of God. The analogies are profoundly rich as we see deeper into the experience of one who falls away to temptation, which is compared to seeds being stolen by birds from a path.
We are also told of the opposite reality: a seed that falls onto rich soil grows deep roots and bears tremendous fruit, which is a wonderful real life illustration of “one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Mt 13:23)
In this and other parables, Jesus is doing more than teaching us about spiritual realities. He is showing us we can discover similar things on our own just by viewing of the world around us. The rich analogies of life, the world around us and even everyday human activities are constantly pointing us to God. We just need to know how to correctly view the world in this way to extract these treasures.
I have been amazed at the circumstances through which God has communicated to me His saving truths. For instance, one time while feeding a bottle to our baby, I had the sudden realization that God nourished me the same way I was to my son. It was then that I understood especially during the times of difficulty in my life God had nourished me and helped me to grow stronger and more mature. Then, I thought of the similar way that eating bitter vegetables, like Brussel sprouts and broccoli, do something similar for our physical lives. All these normal occurrences were pointing me to spiritual concepts and aided me in growing closer to God as I now better understand the beauty that can be found in going through hard times in life.
Our lives are parables. What we currently perceive as normal, friendly conversations, walking the dog, the ocean, the seasons of the year – they all can convey deeper meaning if we view them as signs of our spiritual lives. The meaning is there for our discovery like precious gold is found after digging underground and sifting through the dirt.
We will go more in depth into how we see God more clearly in our daily lives in our upcoming podcast episode being released this Wednesday! (Listen to Zenith Ministries Podcast found here or at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other Podcast services.) But first, let’s look at a few ways to better perceive the world now in order to receive the Godly truths communicated through it.
- Be aware of the actual grace.
Hopefully, we have already begun to take this first step to discovering God’s love through the world around us. Simply knowing what we experience in life can express Godly truths to us is the way to begin. Soon, seeing these deeper realities will become second nature!
2. Read the world like a book.
Just like we read words to discover their meaning and not simply to see how the letters look when placed together, so too can we read the world around us without getting stuck on the surface. It is like a wonderfully written book that we can read to discover who God is and who we are in relation to Him.
While we do this, we don’t follow the notion of “everything is a sign”, but we do understand that everything has a deeper meaning to teach us a lesson about God.
3. Stay in contact with the one that gives the meaning.
Stay in contact with the One from whom all blessings flow and to Whom everything is pointing so we do not fall into a trap of reading too far into things and draw erroneous conclusions from certain events or experience. This is a danger if someone allows themselves to get carried away easily. It’s about God, not about us.
If we are ever unsure as to what meaning we are taking away from our life experiences, we can ask God what it means. In Luke 11:9, He tells us, “Ask and you will receive” so we can trust that He will guide us to understand the meaning that we discover.
These three steps can get us started on the path to seeing the world like Jesus did. We can see it as a beautiful parable through which we learn about God and grow closer to Him. Be sure to check out our upcoming Podcast!