“Days pass and years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles.
Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing;
let there be moments when Your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk.
Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns unconsumed.
And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness, and exclaim in wonder:
How filled with awe is this place, and we did not know it!
Blessed is the Eternal One, the Holy God!”
(Chaim Stern, from Mishkan T’Filah, A Reform Siddur-Shabbat)
One Sunday morning Pastor Dan read this powerful, challenging and inspiring prayer. It immediately grabbed my attention which started me pondering very seriously how often we miss the presence of the Lord. Thus this blog.
Two Bible examples come to mind—one from the Old Testament and one from the New.
The first narrative is from Genesis 28:1-16. Jacob was told by his father Isaac to go to a place called Paddan Aram to find a wife from his grand daddy’s family. On his way there he stopped for the night and had a dream. In it God was once again reiterating to Jacob the promise made to Abraham that all people of the earth would be blessed through him and his offspring. And that Jacob’s descendants would be like the dust of the earth. Upon awakening from the dream he spoke these words in verse 16. “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.”
He had no idea when he laid down to rest that evening that God would be manifested to him in such a spectacular way. He was completely unaware of the Supernatural residence in that place. But because Jacob’s heart and spiritual eyes were open and receptive he did not miss it—he was able to eventually recognize that the Lord was in his very presence. What a marvelous experience—what an awesome happening.
How open are we to experience God’s presence when we are totally not expecting it? Do we traverse this earth with eyes searching for our Lord’s appearance? How often do we miss it when He is right in front of us?
The second text is from John 20: 11-18. This passage relates the story of Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb in the garden where Jesus had been buried after His crucifixion. When she found the tomb empty she was devastated supposing that someone had moved His body. She was overcome with grief. Who had done this? Why had they done this? And how in the world would she ever find Him? We pick up the account at verse 15. He (Jesus) asked her, “‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’”
Mary did not recognize Jesus even though He was physically standing in front of her. The Bible does not elucidate the reason but my opinion is that her pain and feeling of abject loss perhaps took center stage and Mary allowed herself to be overcome by human emotions instead of being open to the presence of Christ. But then Jesus spoke her name. Verse 16: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means “Teacher”)”. (NIV) Mary was listening with ears attuned to the Lord—that is how she heard Him speak “Mary” and recognized her Master.
Are our ears open to ascertain the Master’s voice? Or are they so filled with the noise of life that there is no room to hear Him speaking to us? Precious reader how often does Jesus call our name and we miss it? Dear God in Heaven please expand our hearing so we can perceive Your softest whisper.
I leave you with a portion of Scripture from Hosea 6:2 “…restore us that we may live in His presence.” Try making that your prayer in the coming days.
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