Here? Really?

From Pastor Todd’s Weekly Email

We tend to describe events in the aftermath of our experience. Last week I read about an Edmond woman who was a finalist in the reality show Design Star. In the course of the story we readers learned she had suffered a broken pelvis in a four-wheeler accident.

She wrestled with the meaning of the event. As with most of us, she asked, “What lesson am I supposed to learn from this experience?” Should she take away that four-wheelers are bad and she should not ride them again? Should she take greater care where she was riding? Should she pay better attention? The possibilities seem limitless if we let our imagination go.

Through the course of the continued conversation the woman’s friend helped her to see that maybe the accident did not occur to “teach her a lesson.” But, maybe that out of that experience a new vision might emerge for how she would serve others. The shape of the woman’s recovering changed. Instead of asking the ongoing “why” question, she would focus her attention on the “what” question. You may see how exploring the “what” may well lead her to describe her experience differently.

Jacob has something of a similar experience in the Genesis passage for this week’s reading. After lying down to rest and seeing the “ladder” that reached the heavens, Jacob was left to describe the experience. He did not rifle through a list of “why” questions. Instead, after he woke, he was thinking “what was this?” Yes, he deemed the place special. He considered the place the “house of God” (Bethel) and noted “this is the gate of heaven.” Well, how would you describe such a dream?

Would Jacob have through God would have been there as he selected a rock for a pillow? Maybe we need to keep this story in its context. Jacob manipulated Esau for the “birthright,” and deceived Isaac to obtain Esau’s blessing.” Under the dark sky on his way to look for a wife he may have taken stock of his decisions – recent and otherwise. Where would God be? Would God be with him? Seems ironic that God would find in this schemer anything commendable.

Maybe we should take Jacob’s words, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” What else is he to say? Don’t lose sight of, “I did not know it.” Too often we fall into the same trap. There are just places God isn’t, places he would not go. Yet, away from his father looking over his shoulder for his brother he realized what we may need to recover – God is in the surprising places. Could it be Jacob, like us, believed God was limited to only being in the “right places” in the “already experienced places?” Out in the wide open spaces, away from buildings and other trappings, God is. And, we did/do not know.

We must admit we are a bit fearful of a God who is and is in the places we have decided he is not. It is far easier for us to manage God if we know where God will be, what to expect when God shows up. When we find God in the ordinary course of life – not in the places we expect him – we are confronted with what we do not know. And, that makes us very uncomfortable. God is here? Really?

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Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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