Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Encounters

I mentioned this in yesterday's post, and until the words actually came out of my fingers, I have to admit I hadn't thought about it much. But now that I have, I realize its incredible importance and so in case you, like me, have not thought about such a thing, allow me to bring this interesting reality of Biblical encounter to your conscious mind:

Whenever God meets a man, it is always first on the man's own ground.

This is true from the very first breath. God formed Adam from the dust and breathed life into the man. That means when Adam first opened his eyes, he saw God. It wouldn't have had to be that way. God could have distantly formed Adam, enlivened him in some less tangible way, and gone about His business in the Garden until the man stumbled upon Him and introduced himself. He could have endowed Adam with a tremendous sense of longing for the holy, like we so often seem to have, then challenged the man to find something to satisfy that hollow place. But He didn't. He breathed life into Adam and stayed there so from the very first breath, Adam's deepest question was answered - a question he wouldn't even have known he was asking. There was God. Face-to-face.

Jacob was camped at the river, waiting to cross with his family and possessions. He sends his entourage across the river and then wrestles with a man who has found him, a man we come to know as the presence of God. It's not like God was washing up in the river and Jacob invaded this private moment or this personal space. This man was coming after Jacob because Jacob was settled there. Genesis tells us that. Jacob was camped out; this man walks into his camp. God comes to him.

Moses is out for his life. He's killed an Egyptian man in defense of a Hebrew man and somehow, this has made both groups of men despise him. He's out wandering in the wilderness, not looking for anything in particular, when he sees a bush ablaze before him. God didn't send Moses into the wilderness to find Him. But He met Moses there.

When David is called to be King, God sends the prophet to the house of David's father, Jesse. He could have waited until a festival day, when the faithful Jewish family likely would have come to Him. He could have put a journey on David's heart to travel to this or that place that might be more holy than a shepherd's pasture. But He didn't. He knew the man He was going to anoint King of Israel, and God went to the place where David was. He went to the man's home.

I say all this because it's so easy for us to think we have to find God. It's so easy for us to buy into the idea that we have to go looking for Him, that it's up to us whether we ever encounter His holy presence or not. That's even the way we phrase it. "I was a deplorable man, and then I found God."

Be honest: have you ever "found God" somewhere other than your own ground? I mean, the first time. I mean, when you were really aching for Him. I mean, when you had a hollowness in your life that you just couldn't seem to fill and you finally found something holy - has it ever been on neutral ground? No. Because that's not the pattern or the promise of God.

You see, the greatest truth about finding God is that He first found us. He sent His Son into our place, into our flesh, onto our ground and even then, people did not have to go looking for God; He was traveling to them. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it still is. God is right here, in the middle of your ground, looking for you. Waiting for you. Watching for you. Hoping...for you. It doesn't mean He won't call you somewhere else; I always hope He calls me somewhere holy. But even then He will lead me. I never have to look for Him.

He's always right here, looking for me.

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