This meditation ts Jacob ́s experience surprisingly well. He could have written and sung this poem as he poured oil over the improvised altar at Bethel. And yet it belongs to another mil- lennium! Which implies that as centuries pass, God remains the same as does the manner in which humans relate to God.
In his youthful years David, the attributed psalmist, also knew the experience of displacement and uncertainty. Before he wore the crown, he was an outlaw in his own nation. Surely as he matured he became aware of God ́s intimate knowledge of his life: “You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”
This prayer asks for nothing; the psalmist simply considers the intimacy of relationship with God—an intimacy that leads to amazing knowledge of the psalmist. The psalm manifests astounding theological discernment beginning with verse 7. We nd it dif cult to understand such an unquali ed presence. The psalmist acknowledges that God hems him in “behind and before.” He can go nowhere that God is not—God surrounds him. Even the darkness is not dark to God. He with Jacob can af rm, “Surely the LOrD is in this place!”
Even though we will never fully understand God, we are invited to acquaint ourselves with the divine. Friendship requires intentional cultivation. In our desire to hide on the periphery, wander in the fringes, escape to the sea, we miss the depth of the experience with the Eternal, a God who never gives up the pursuit of relationship. Such intimate relationship takes time and space.
“Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!” I want to enjoy your great and tender love; may I feel your presence. Amen.
This week’s texts depict a broad span of settings of God’s activity, from Jacob’s encounter in solitude to the broader context of creation itself in Romans. The texts also tell of God’s commission of human agents, weak and inadequate, to carry out divine tasks. Jacob may not be totally aware of God’s plans for him, but the reader knows. Paul declares that the people in whom the Spirit of God dwells are very much in tune with the pain of creation. They also long for God’s nal deliverance. Just at the point of the reluctance of God’s agents to carry out the tasks, the parable from Matthew about the wheat and weeds gives hope. God will take care of the weeds in God’s own time. Psalm 139 is a moving statement on the ubiquitous nature of God’s presence.
• Read Genesis 28:10-19a. When have you “wakened” to acknowledge that you were in a holy place? What did you do to memorialize the place?
• Read Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24. Do you regularly take time in a set-aside place for an intimate relationship with God? If not, what steps could you take to ensure that relationship?
• Read Romans 8:12-25. Do you feel close enough to God to call God “Abba”? Why or why not?
• Read Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. What are you doing to discourage the growth of evil in your life? How does your garden grow?
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