Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
It’s time for a reality check. Is what you see all you see? Is what you know all there is? When you see a sunrise, a thunder storm, a snow drift, or a quarter moon, what do you really see? When you hear a beautiful voice, a piano concerto, a skillful guitarist, or a moving rhythm, what do you hear?
I ask these questions, not with the intension of getting you to philosophically question whether or not the chair you are seated in is really there or some other such nonsense, but rather, because I want you to think about how you perceive reality. We see far too little. We hear far too little. We remember far too little about the real world in which we live.
This reality came to my attention recently as I read through an account of the life of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. Jacob, as you probably know, was a sneak, a lying cheater. He swindled his hungry brother out of his birthright and then duped his poor, blind father out of a blessing that wasn’t intended for him. When Jacob’s brother had reached the boiling point, Jacob, on the advice of his mommy who was a trickster in her own right, ran away from home to his uncle’s place for safety.
It was while Jacob was traveling, when he had camped out one night, that he saw something amazing in a vision from God. Jacob saw a staircase stretching from earth to heaven, and saw that the Lord was there at the top of it. Angels from God were traveling from heaven to earth and back again, and God was there overseeing it all. The Lord told Jacob that he indeed would carry the blessing of God that had been given to his grandfather Abraham and to his father Isaac.
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And here we return to my original questions. Jacob was living his life as if God were not there. He was not an atheist, for sure. Jacob believed in the God of his fathers. Jacob even schemed to receive the blessing. But, Jacob was practically living as an atheist, acting as though the presence of God was a non-factor. Jacob lied, stole, and ran away, all with the assumption that God would play no role in this drama. Only now did Jacob begin to realize that he had not seen nearly enough.
So, back to the original question. What do you see? When you look at your life, do you live as though God is not a part at all? Do you assume that what you will accomplish is only that which you are supposedly able to accomplish? Do you assume that the people around you will not be impacted by the presence and power of God? Do you see the sun, moon, and stars and forget the voice of the God who looked into the blackness of the void and said, “Let there be…”? Do you look at political and financial news and assume that the nation will have to pull herself up by her own bootstraps in order to stand? Do you assume that political change is what will help the people of the land to actually do what is right? Do you look at your breakfast, and foolishly think that the food came only from the grocery store and not look deeper to see the hand of the Creator?
It’s so easy, isn’t it, to look at what is around you, be it weather, people, or technology, and assume that what you can see is all there is. But Christians, we know better. There is far more. There is a God who made us. There is a God who is working out his plan, his will, and no one will stop him. There is a God who cares for us, who provides for us, and who fixes things we could never fix.
Christians, let’s not find ourselves saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” The first half is fine, because God is surely in this place, whatever place you are in. But the second half has to go. Know that God is there. Know that God is active. Pray, and ask God to remind you that he is with you and in control. Pray that God will help you to think as a person who is a creation of God, redeemed by God, kept by God, and destined for eternity with God.