Session 9 of last fall's 40 Day Project:
If we’re going to believe in God, we should agree on a couple basic principles. 1) God is not passive - He is active and loves to help anyone who calls out to Him in faith. 2) God does not only help us to be good people – He empowers us to correct wrongs and to fight evil. 3) God is not religious, nor is He a set of moral dos and don’ts - He is a being who wants to be our partner in life, with all that that entails.
One day Philip (one of the twelve) asked, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” John 14:8. Jesus’ answer was, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?”
At first Philip and the other disciples must have felt disappointed. They were probably eager and excited at the thought of Jesus waving His hands and commanding the heavens to open up for the Father to appear in the best special effects display ever. They were about to see the Father… Jesus’ reply must have been a big let down at first, because He basically said…Philip, there’s nothing else. I’m it. I’m the “enough” you’re looking for.
Approximately a thousand years before that, Jacob had run away from his father’s house because his lies and deception had finally caught up to him, and his brother was planning to murder him. He decided to change his life and move to the land his father had come from, and stopped in Bethel on the first night of his journey and laid his head on a rock as he slept. That night God appeared to him in a dream, at the top of a stairway that extended from Jacob into heaven. Angels were going up and down this stairway and God promised to bless and protect Jacob on his journey.
When Jacob woke up he was amazed at what had just happened, and said, “God is in this place and I did not realize it.” Gen 28:16 He had been going through the worst moment of his life, running from his murderous brother, so poor he had only a rock for a pillow and all alone in the middle of nowhere… but what he had not realized was that God was there, knew all about his situation, and was determined to help him.
What does this passage mean for us in the 40DP? It means this: If God is here and He is enough, we can’t just wait for things to get better, we should go ahead and do what we need to with the absolute certainty that He is here, and will help us. God, in all His power, is with us in the most ordinary, common moments of our lives.
Too many times we assume that certain things are out of our reach and so we don’t bother to fight for them. You may have grown up in a family with constant fighting and no peace. When you get married, you find yourself repeating the same misery that your parents had. The potential to have a much better marriage is always there, but as long as you assume that what your parents had is all you can hope for, that potential is never realized. Whenever we do this, we are like Jacob… God is in this place and I did not realize it, or make use of His power.
So many nice Christians grow up in church and are taught that they’re born again and filled with God’s Spirit, and so they believe that they are experiencing everything that God has to offer, yet they’re miserable and broken. When they compare their lives to what they need, or to God’s promises and examples of others in His Word, there is a huge gap. When we admit that this is a contradiction and boldly agree that God truly is in this place and is ready to take us to another level, we begin the process of bridging that gap so that the promises of God that we long to see do come true. If we don’t, then we remain in that twilight zone of unfulfilled dreams… even though God has the power to do so much more.
We can’t put God on a shelf. It’s common among many who claim to believe in God to say, “God only helps those who help themselves,” and proudly do everything by themselves, take the credit for anything good they accomplish, and feel angry with God when things don’t go their way. They are proud of their own resourcefulness, but they’ve shut God out of their lives. God helps those who use their faith, who rely only on Him, and who understand that He is enough.
Don’t make the mistake of expecting fireworks or drama every time God is near. Even in the most ordinary, mundane day, God is with us and is ready to reveal His power in anything, big or small. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that God is far away because everything feels so normal. Too many people equate God and faith with feelings of elation. What God taught Jacob was that He was there even in the most lonely, desolate and difficult time.
HOMEWORK: Remind yourself that God is by your side even during average and mundane moments. Stop putting God on the shelf by assuming He’s too big and important to get involved in your life. You are in His amazing and awesome presence always, get used to it!