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This past Christmas, I heard a message on Matthew 2:1-12 regarding the wise men and their journey to worship baby Jesus. It was a perspective that I had never heard before and was the start of this series in my heart. I learned that the Magi were scientists, more specifically astronomers; they were very logical men. God met them right where they were. He used a star as a signal and a guide for the wise men to go and worship the newborn king. God didn’t try to get their attention with a lovely poem or a powerful prophecy. No, instead He spoke their language, so they could hear and understand His message, which led to obedient action.
As the passage progresses, we see the faith of the wise men grow. In verse 12, we learn that the Magi did not go home the same way they came because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod because of his evil schemes. There are many theories and interpretations regarding how far and how long the wise men traveled. They range from a few days to months to even a year or more. I can only imagine the amount of faith it took to pick up and follow a star day after day until reaching the home where Jesus was with his mother.
Romans 4 talks about God accepting Abraham even before he was circumcised. In this chapter, Paul talks about God meeting us right where we are with His unending grace as a free gift, not something that we have earned. Abraham didn’t have to perform the act of circumcision so that God would draw near to him. Nope, God loved, cherished, blessed and protected him despite his lack of circumcision along with some pretty bonehead moves (lying about his wife twice saying she was his sister out of fear and allowing other men to marry her).
God called David “a man after His own heart” despite the fact that he had impregnated a married woman (Bathsheba) and then plotted her husband’s murder.
God’s unconditional love and acceptance have changed my life dramatically. Knowing and believing that I don’t have to clean up or be different in order to bask in the unending adoration of The Lord has drastically changed my faith and my beliefs about and actions toward myself and others. It has been a total game changer. As I continue to pitch the performance mentality, I experience so much more freedom, peace and joy.
Last week my friend Cherrelle shared here about how God met her in the muck and the mud of an extremely difficult season of her life. God didn’t withdraw when the going got rough like so many of us do with Him and each other. Instead, God leaned in and met Cherrelle right where she was.
You see, as humans we are so prone to judging people externally and tend to want to meet others who look a certain way or emulate something “special”. Of course, some of that is legit. However, it is the human tendency to shy away from those who don’t look or act the way we want them to. It’s usually much harder to walk the extra few steps to introduce one’s self to an “outsider” or someone new or different as opposed to staying in the comfortable bubble of familiar and “safe”. It doesn’t require much effort. One of the many beauties about God is that instead of avoiding messy like humans tend to, He actually comes in closer and draws us harder to Himself. When we are the ones on the outside, God runs to where we are just to meet us. Are we open to the introduction?
God met me in my fear of being completely sleep deprived with a newborn. I didn’t have to clean up before He pursued me, I didn’t have to be different in any way. I just had to be humble, open, teachable and willing to listen. God made us the way we are on purpose! It is His handiwork that wove us together and God is incapable of creating junk. So when God created me as a typical type A first born who is very contemplative and a strong introvert, He already had a plan of how He was going to pursue and connect with me. He knew that speaking to me through books, sermons and others in quiet calm situations and in my solitude would be very effective. He doesn’t expect me to get involved in art or crafting or bird-watching in order to find Him because that’s not me. God doesn’t hide from us laughing the whole time as we try to find him like the little kid playing hide and seek with her friends. Instead, God positions Himself where we are most likely to experience Him. Although He generally speaks in a gentle whisper, God’s presence is unmistakable even when we aren’t necessarily looking for Him.
Just like a polite guest in our home, God is a gentleman and doesn’t push His way into our lives. He waits to be invited in and is then patient as we progressively open up different parts of our hearts to Him. God never forces Himself on us and He won’t barge in despite His strong desire to be close to us.
The series title of the past five weeks has been: “God Meets Us Right Where We Are”. The other day I was thinking about the word, “meet”. In order for two people to actually meet and have a chance of remembering each other, they both need to be aware of and engaged with the other. I can’t truly meet someone if one of us isn’t participating in the exchange. The same is true with God.
So in order to meet God, I have to be aware of His presence and engage with Him in some way. It does not count as a meeting if God is there but I have no idea. So this is where I need to open my eyes, ears and heart because God IS everywhere just waiting to meet with me! I just have to be in-tune with Him. God is in science, new mom fears, dishes, under the hood of the car, at the gym and in heartbreak. He IS in all of it!
Brother Lawrence wrote “The Practice of the Presence of God”. It’s a small book but don’t underestimate it because of its size. It is packed full of his conversations, letters, spiritual truths and experiences all sharing how to remain in the presence of God always. Brother Lawrence was a 17th century Carmelite monk who worked in the kitchen of his monastery. His primary aim was to meet God in every one of his activities every minute of the day. Such a simple concept, but so deeply profound and life-changing.
I really try to emulate Brother Lawrence’s practices, but I must admit that I do find it a struggle and often forget to look for God wherever I am. But that’s OK because knows my heart, He sees my honest desire to seek and please Him and that makes Him smile. And I smile too whenever I too, knowing that God is kneeling down with His arms spread wide just waiting for me to jump in.