The Secret to Finding God

Terry Lieb God Finds, Living out your Faith, Mindfulness 5 Comments

Photo Credit: Terry Leib

On a recent visit with some close friends in Denver, I had three “close encounters” with the divine when our hosts took us to an extraordinary park and nature center near their home. As we wandered amongst the spectacular red rock formations, it was easy to see why the park had been called “Garden of the Gods” by the two surveyors who named it. The grandeur of landscape instantly sparked a feeling of awe and reverence within me, and called to mind the creative force behind it. What an incredible Creator to have fashioned this magnificence! I had no doubt that I was in the presence of God.

While Rita and our friends walked on the paved pathways amongst the formations, I headed for a three-mile dirt trail around the perimeter of the park. After about two miles I came across a huge rattlesnake soaking in the sun about 10 feet off the trail.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

I stood motionless and observed this amazing creature that most of us are scared to get close to. Although the warning sound of his rattles when he sensed my presence was chilling, there was also a beauty in the colors of his scales. It struck me that this creature was every bit as much God’s handiwork as the gorgeous scenery around him. I wondered what it means that God is behind even some things that we might find uncomfortable or frightening. Is there divinity to be found even in the scary places we don’t want to go?

I was still pondering the possible lessons of the rattlesnake when I came across a middle-aged couple on the trail. The gentleman, who was obviously quite distraught, literally begged for my help with his wife, who he feared was having a heart attack! His wife, Grace, appeared to be in a mild state of shock. Although I’m not a physician, her symptoms seemed to better fit with altitude sickness than a heart attack.

Working together her husband and I were able to help her to the street, where a passing driver offered to transport the couple to the visitor’s center. As Grace climbed into the SUV, I savored the high that comes with helping. If there is a better feeling than being able to make a meaningful difference in someone else’s life, I haven’t found it.

Before they drove away, the man tried to press several bills into my hand to express his thanks. He looked at me strangely when I told him I couldn’t possibly accept since I’d already been repaid in full. That wasn’t just a polite way of refusing his money—it was true! Considering how fantastic it makes me feel, having the opportunity to serve others isn’t a burden at all, but a blessing.

There you have it: three separate God encounters in as many hours! And that isn’t even a particularly unusual frequency. When I tell people I experience God on a daily—if not hourly—basis, I get a variety of reactions. Some people think I’m making it up. Others seem to think that I must be particularly spiritual or devout or have been specially singled out by God. Believe me, nothing could be farther from the truth! I’ve got my fair share of flaws and failings (just ask Rita!), and I’m sure God doesn’t appear to me any more than to anyone else.

So, you might ask, what is my secret?

The “secret” is this: I pay attention. That’s it. I look for God in everything and everyone. Since I see God as the “Hound of Heaven” who relentlessly pursues us all, all the time, I expect God to show up and am constantly on the lookout for what I call “God Finds.” Instead of wondering if God is present, I’m always asking, Where is God in this?

When I’ve explained my simple technique to folks seeking to encounter God more often in their own lives, they often ask for a more structured approach. Although I hesitate to give too much direction since it might not allow the space for God to sneak into their world in fresh, unexpected ways, I’ve found that God Finds do typically fall into several main categories.

Witnessing the majesty of nature—the dramatic rock formations in “Garden of the Gods” or a spectacular sunset or the incomprehensible vastness of the universe—certainly is one powerful way of experiencing God‘s presence, bypassing all our thoughts, concepts, and beliefs about God and instead allowing us to encounter the divine directly though our innate sense of awe and reverence.

Meditation and prayer can also generate transcendent spiritual experiences of communion with God, as well as miraculous events like the birth of a child which fill us with wonder and humility.

Photo Credit: Terry Leib

Not all God Find experiences are high-flying “mountaintop” affairs, however. Some of the most common type of God Finds are associated with tragedy, struggle, crisis, loss, or major health issues. In fact, it is in the darkest times that people often feel God’s presence most deeply.

Another category I put into the mix after discovering how important it is to some people is animals. While some folks can’t imagine experiencing God through an animal, others say their dog or cat’s love for them is the closest approximation to God’s unconditional love that they have ever felt. Having loved and been loved by several pets myself, I certainly understand.

However, I would have to say that in my opinion, God is found most often and most profoundly through other people. In our relationships with other people, we can experience not only love, but mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice, tolerance, gratitude, and faithfulness. By engaging those who are different than us, we have the opportunity to have our beliefs challenged and expanded by other perspectives. Only by valuing the vast diversity of the human family can we begin to realize and appreciate the mind-boggling complexity of God’s creation.

Finally, I always stay alert for encounters that don’t fit neatly into any of my regular categories. I don’t want to miss bumping into God in an unusual and surprising way (especially when the unexpected often seems to be his preferred modus operandi!).

Would you like to experience God’s presence more often in your life? If so, I challenge you to widen your definition of what constitutes an “encounter” with God and start examining the events of your day for God Finds every night for a week. Although it may be tough in the beginning, I guarantee that the more you look for God Finds, the more you will see. Soon you may have so many, you can’t even keep up with them!

If you decide to take me up on up my challenge, I would love to hear about it. Learning about other folks’ God Finds has often been a tremendous God Find in my own life. So if you’d like to share how the challenge has impacted you or a specific God Find, post a comment to this story and keep the blessing going!



  1. Do you experience God on a regular basis? Would you like to have more frequent encounters? If so, do you think that is possible? Why or why not?
  2. Do you know people whose relationship with God seems to be exceptionally close? What do you think is different about them?
  3. Do you see God as “the Hound of Heaven” who is in constant pursuit of us or a more distant entity who rarely gets involved in human affairs? How did you arrive at this understanding of God? Do you think your beliefs shape your experience?
  4. What do you consider an experience of God? Would it need to be something as clear as a voice from the heavens or could it be more subtle or ordinary? Would you regard the three examples in the story as encounters with God? Why or why not?
  5. Are you able to see God in some of the most difficult events and relationships in your life? How has God shown up in your darkest times? Did you perceive it at the time?
  6. Most people can see receiving assistance or answers to prayer as evidence of God’s presence in their life, but what about giving assistance or being an answer to someone else’s hopes or prayers? How have you been blessed by giving?
  7. How might your life be different if you looked at everything you encountered—every experience, every challenge, every person—as if it contained evidence of God’s presence? Are you willing to give it a try?



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January 3, 2020 9:07 pm

Hi Terry I love the blog about finding God in so many aspects of life. There are far too many in my life to count. However, one comes immediately to mind. Raising our 15 children was an expensive undertaking and blessing! We both worked full time and part time jobs to make ends meet. Of course, we kept challenging the budget by adding more children. I specifically recall, on three separate occasions, getting very close to payday many years ago, and not being certain where the funds were to bridge the gap. On each of those days, cash arrived in… Read more »

Daniel Maslanik
Daniel Maslanik
January 4, 2020 2:45 pm

Terry, Thank you for your articles/ blogs, I always look forward to each and every one. They are always thought provoking as well as entertaining. I just imagine myself sitting and listening to you tell each story in person. Each one is special to Connie and I. Give our love to Rita.

Elizabeth Schaeffer
Elizabeth Schaeffer
January 6, 2020 12:44 am

The minute I step into nature my soul opens up, I have a feeling of inner peace and the weight of my world temporarily moving off my shoulders. I am fully aware it is because I’ve walked into God’s house… Happy Holidays Terry and Rita!

D. Brubaker
D. Brubaker
January 6, 2020 10:18 pm

When we moved into our new home, my husband and I were disappointed that there were no cardinals at our bird feeders. After three years and no cardinals, we almost gave up. At about that same time my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we forgot about birds, the beauty of nature and many other things that used to give us pleasure. Our eyes seemed blinded to the positive. Then one day as I was sitting in our living room, I thought I saw a flash of red outside. It was a cardinal sitting on a tree limb. After… Read more »


[…] Finds”—a term I use for instances where we recognize God’s presence which I explained in a previous post —in her life. When she mentioned using God Finds as part of her wellness program to the three […]