sensitive we are to God’s presence in our everyday lives is determined by the
weighty loads we carry or by our preoccupations. It will depend on our outlook
to life -- how worldly or spiritual we are. Where do you fit? If we seek God we
will find Him. God is all around, if we only care to look. The birds, the
trees, sunset, twilight, dusk, the air we breathe and the food we eat all tell
the story of God’s presence in our midst. Whereas in times past God’s presence
would descend on God’s chosen vessel for a specific assignment, today God’s
spirit lives in us permanently --- of course after we have openly accepted His
Lordship over our lives.
Jacob, Esau’s brother, definitely knew about God as he was growing up in the home of Abraham’s son, Isaac. He however became ‘unruly’ in his behaviour, coveting his brother’s birthright and his blessings as well. From thence life became miserable for him as he had to flee from his home to take refuge at his uncle’s residence in Paddan Aram – a two-day journey on foot -- for fear of being murdered by his brother, Esau.
At night fall, he could no longer pursue his journey, so he had to spend the night in the open – under the stars. With a stone for a pillow, he had a strange encounter. “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:!2)
It did not end with a vision. God also spoke to him from the top of the stairway where He stood... “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying, your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. 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.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
Jacob had been busy running after blessings when he had already been blessed – even before his birth. His mother had enquired of the Lord and this was the response she got. “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 28:23) “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated....” (Malachi 1:2-3) All Jacob was desperate to have and was bent on having through deceit, God had already given to him. Sadly, he did not know this. His spiritual eyes had not yet been opened to the things and nature of God. At this point God had to do an eye operation on him. So that night as he laid there in the open heavens, at his most vulnerable state, God revealed Himself to him in a dream, recounted earlier. He remarked upon waking up; “Surely God was in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16) The Bible account reveals that he was terrified and he uttered these words: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate to heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)
God was connecting Jacob’s destiny to heaven from that vantage point where he had been separated from his family and fleeing for his life – to seek refuge at his uncle Laban’s home. God established that contact to call Jacob’s attention to God’s agenda for his life. There are many things hidden from us that we have to look for, though for some of them God gives to us on a platter.
Like Jacob who summed his experience up in these words: “God was in this place and I did not know it,” most of us are unaware of God’s presence around and within us. Our spiritual antennae have to be positioned so that we can be receptive to God’s call and voice when He speaks to us and when He calls.
God is always speaking to His children but only those who have become sensitive to His voice and presence would hear His persistent knocking on their doors. Of course, there are those who have completely cut off or put off their spiritual antenna---those to whom it makes no difference whether they are connected to God or not; those whom ‘the prince of this world’ has blinded their eyes and dulled their ears to the word of God.
We hail the likes of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who had defrauded his own compatriots but who when Jesus stepped into his house willingly recognised His presence and a change was effected in his life. He declared spontaneously, without any compulsion of any kind. “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8) What provoked such a confession, you may want to ask? Zacchaeus, the host, acknowledged the presence of God in his house and he seized the opportunity. He knew that was the opportune moment and he did not let it go. He knew the author of salvation had come to his house to cleanse him through and through.
This was something Martha did not pick up when she had Jesus and His disciples as guests in her home. She was busy doing all she could to make them comfortable. She was busy in the kitchen preparing food and she complained to Jesus about her sister’s attitude of not giving a helping hand. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41)
Getting our priorities right is one giant step to serving the Lord. To achieve this we have to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Above all, we must establish a communication link with Him not to miss out altogether.