Red: Week 2 - Daily Reflection October 14, 2015


This is the second week of daily devotions reflecting on the sermon series that I'm currently preaching, "Red: Understanding the Hard Sayings of Jesus."  This week we are reflecting on what it means to recognize the Holy Spirit working, moving, creating and inspiring in the world around us.  

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible from Genesis 28:10-17: 
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[b] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Jacob was running from his past.  His brother Esau was trying to kill him because he had stolen the final blessing from their father Isaac.  His whole life had fallen apart.  He was heading into the unknown, both literally and figuratively.  

But then, as he wandered through the wilderness, he reached a "certain place." 

I love how the ancient Hebrew storytellers conveyed this story through the centuries.  The "certain place" doesn't have a name when Jacob arrives there because it's smack dab in the middle of "nowhere."  

We all know this place.  

It's the place that you arrive when you have run out of options.  
It's the place you arrive when you hit the wall, exhausted and burned out. 
It's the place you arrive when your addiction steals everything you've loved. 
It's the place you arrive when you have have no idea what comes next.  

And what did Jacob discover when he arrived at this "certain place," this place in the middle of nowhere?  Something amazing.  

He awakes from a fantastic, hope-filled, vision-casting dream and he realizes that the Spirit of God was in that "certain place."  Jacob never imagined to experience the Spirit in what seemed like a god-forsaken moment.  But he quickly realized that his imagination had been too small.  He exclaims: 
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."
In Mark chapter 3, Jesus chides a group of zealous, anxious religious leaders for refusing to see, refusing to acknowledge that the Spirit of God was doing something new right in front of them.  They were so preoccupied with their own wilderness that they could not see that the Lord was in that place.  

So many of us miss the Spirit of God in these moments.  Our imaginations aren't big enough to make room for the immensity of God's presence in the world.  We are often too preoccupied with the wilderness to experience God's creative Spirit working within pushing back against the barrenness, and revealing God's glory.

Take the time today to make room for God's immense, creative Spirit in the wilderness moments, the moments when you feel anxiety, fear, frustration, or sadness.  Perhaps you will find as Jacob did that the Lord "is in this place, and I was not aware of it."

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