Missing God

Missing God

Today’s Scripture Selection: Genesis 28:16

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’”

As Abraham and Sarah’s story unfolds there is much richness, albeit mixed in with some deception.

At one point, after receiving his father’s blessing that rightfully should have gone to Isaac, Jacob’s story continues.  There is this very interesting dream that Jacob has at a place called Bethel.

Do you remember a song about Jacob’s ladder?  It’s from this bit of scripture.

Dreaming of a wonderful stairway reaching to heaven, complete with angels ascending and descending on it, Jacob hears the LORD speak of how his descendants will be “like the dust of the earth” and how they will “spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south.”  Jacob receives this wonderful promise: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.  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.”

It’s quite a blessing, to say the least.

No wonder he exclaimed upon waking, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

What’s so poignant and interesting about this story is that Jacob receives this blessing – and comes to new awareness of God’s powerful presence in his life – after he has done wrong and has been on the run.

Isn’t that often true for us?

We sin, or we fail in some way, or we fear facing the consequences of some ill-chosen action, and God – in God’s mercy – blesses us and others with grace.  Somehow, some great providential plan happens just as it should – despite or even by way of our duplicity or failure.

There is great mercy in the story of Jacob and his wonderful dream at Bethel.  That’s the name Jacob gives the place where he dreamt and built an altar to God.  It means “house of God.”

Perhaps God is at work in your life – some place where, for the moment, you have missed Him.  You may be there, like Jacob, right in God’s midst – and not even be aware.

If so, isn’t it time to wake up – and give thanks?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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