Whether you realize it or not, God has already shown up for you today. Why not praise Him right now for His immediate presence with you now?
On Sabbath, we saw what happened when God showed up for Jacob as he ran for his life from the wrath of Esau, his brother. Having stolen Esau’s blessing from their father, Isaac through deceit and trickery, “Jacob felt that he was an outcast, and he knew that all this trouble had been brought upon him by his own wrong course. The darkness pressed upon his soul, and he hardly dared to pray.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 183)
Ever felt this way? Jacob was in a strange place. But when you feel you cannot pray, that is the very time you must pray, because the strange place is the grace place.
Rewind to Genesis 28:12-15. God sent Jacob a strange dream of a ladder reaching from Heaven to earth, with angels ascending and descending on it. Two things stand out right away. First, God is encountering Jacob personally for the first time. Jacob had heard about the covenant with his grandpa, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. It was family legacy. But now Jacob is hearing the covenant promise spoken to him from God Himself. There comes a time when the God of your parents or ancestor, must become your God.
Second, Jacob had to be surprised that instead of a beating, he got a blessing. Instead of punishment, he received promises. Why would a deceiver and a fugitive get the blessing of God? Because when God shows up sinners receive mercy.
God shows up in the strangest places. Places where God seems most absent turn out to be places where He is most present. The stairway to heaven was not just a way out, but a way up to God’s very presence. The stairway was a visible symbol of the real and uninterrupted fellowship between God in heaven and His people upon earth. And Jesus Himself was symbolized in those stairs as the bridge of reconciliation. Though Jacob was in a strange place, God was still connected with Him. And He’s still connected with us.
When God shows up in unexpected places, we’re caught off guard. Jacob wasn’t looking for God, but He showed up anyway! When he least expected it—while he was asleep; while on the run; while possessing a stolen blessing; while anticipating a future as yet unknown to him—God showed up. Actually, God was already there. Jacob ran into God! God had already provided for Jacob before he was aware of God or the provision.
Jacob wakes from his dream and says, “Surely God is in this place, and I did not know it” (vs. 16). I didn’t know God was here in the wilderness. I didn’t know God was here in my loneliness. I didn’t know God was here in my exile, my unemployment, my divorce, my hospital room, my loveless marriage, my fear for the future. And this is a truth we must grasp. You don’t have to be in church to be in the presence of God. Wherever you are God is. It may be a strange place, but anyplace you need Him is the right place for God’s grace. In fact, where sin and strangeness abound grace does much more abound (Rom. 5:20).
But there’s more. God not only had a blessing for Jacob, He came to make him a blessing for the nations. When God shows up, you are blessed to be a blessing. And if it can happen to Jacob, it can happen to you. The kingdom of God is among you because Jesus lives in you and me. He is here not only to bless you but to make you a blessing. No one is outside the pale when it comes to the possibilities of a changed life through divine intervention.
“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.’” (Gen. 28:17) What house? There was no house. No temple. No structure of any kind. How could He call that barren wasteland, the house of God? Because God’s house and the gateway to His glory is anywhere He shows up! And that always surprises church folk, because sometimes we forget where God found us. We think He’s only in church—only in “righteous spaces.” He couldn’t be in clubs, could He? He couldn’t be in the tattoo parlors, right? He couldn’t be in the bars and in the alleyways where drug addicts shoot up, right?
Here’s the bottom line: Jesus doesn’t just want to be Lord of the church. He wants to be Lord of all. Our vision of Christ and who He is has been too small! He is not just Lord of vege-loaf or even just Lord of the 7th day. He is not only Lord of my situation and life, but He is Lord of all. I say, Like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it…How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
We need to pray like God is in this place. Not only in our hearts, our homes, our doctrines, etc., but in this city where we live. Remember Wicked Nineveh? Rewind to Jonah 4:11. If God was in Nineveh, surely He is in Renton and the city where you live.
We need to pray that God wakes the city up and wakes us up to the reality that He’s here, and that He reigns! That’s revival. We need to pray for more than the ordinary working of the grace of God, but for a visible and impressive demonstration that God has made the crucified and risen Savior, both Lord and Christ!
When God shows up, our eyes are opened and we see what we couldn’t see before; we hear what we couldn’t hear before, our minds conceive what they could conceive before. When God shows up, we see Jesus!
Do you want to see Jesus? Are you ready for God to show up? In your life? In this church? In our city? Behold! This is the house of God; this is the gate of heaven. He’s here now. But when God shows up, you show up. Show up in prayer. Show up in repentance. Show up in integrity, and we’ll discover that God was there all along. —Pastor Randy
p.s. Continue to pray daily at noon for God to show up in the lives of those we will invite to the Experience Jesus meeting beginning just 41 days from now.