Altars – those places where we come face-to-face with God and stuff gets turned upside down, transformed, altered. There is a hard to forget altar story in the ancient book of 1 Kings in the bible. There a man named Elijah, a prophet of the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob (the good guy), takes on the prophets of Baal (the bad guys). A spectacular event results, but that’s not the end of the story. It plays out on a mountain where Elijah runs for his life despite his slamdunk victory earlier. It isn’t just a 3000 year old action thriller, it’s a story about something we have to deal with everyday. (1 Kings 18.16 through 19.18)
Imagine yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, under a starry sky, or at the top of a mountain peak. Faced with such beauty, some of us would quickly identify the creative energy of wind and water over millennia, the uniqueness of the cosmos or the power of shifting tectonic plates. At the same time, many of us stand in awe and give thanks to God for the depth of beauty embodied within such creation. Why is it so easy for two people to encounter grandeur yet only one sees God and the other doesn’t? What is it about the astonishing that becomes a pathway to experiencing God? How do we talk about the undeniably amazing with those around us in ways that don’t seem cliché or nostalgic? If we’re trying to believe that God is doing something in this world, then let’s spend some time next week staring at some things that are truly unimaginable without God.
“I just want to know what I’m supposed to do.” You’ve probably said that. And if God’s been a factor in your life at all, you probably wished God would weigh in. God would like to too. But how? How detailed is ‘following God’s will’ supposed to be? And how does God let us know? Through the haze of baffling questions like those God appears. There are times when you knew you were doing the right thing… or the wrong thing. And there are some among us who feel their whole lives led by God. It may not make a lot of sense when or how it happens, it’s an OMG experience.
You’ve been through some very hard times. Times that rightly made you wonder if God was really there. And if God was there, why didn’t God care enough to do something? People have gone through horrors that dwarf the worst of ours and felt God’s presence, support and strength the whole time. What’s that all about? Just an illusion… or are they experiencing something we can all have? Maybe something you have had. To face the worst and be able to say, “OMG, you’re here.” That would be amazing!
Hebrews 11:1 is one of the more popular nuggets in the Bible. It gets pulled out and highlighted on a regular basis. It says that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. And I have to admit that most days, I am not a fan. I mean, if you really want me to get onboard with something, well heck, throw me a bone! Show me something. Compel me. Inspire me. Make me want it! Don't tease me with things that are apparently there but just not visible to me. Let's hash this out together, because seriously, if God doesn't play games with us, then there must be more going on here than meets the eye. See you Sunday...and bring a friend!