Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pursuing God?

I've always thought that to be an interesting phrase.  To think that we pursue God when most of history is about us avoiding God all together.  Even from the beginning of time, in the Genesis story of Adam, Eve the serpent and the apple it seems we are more likely to hide from God than to seek or pursue God.
What's most amazing is that God has shown us the exact opposite in scripture.  In scripture we witness a decidedly and surprisingly incarnate God.  Think about it for a moment.  Just a few examples: God provides a lamb for Isaac, God is present in the burning bush for Moses, appears in the road (Numbers 22:22) as Balaam tries to ride contrary to the Lord's instructions.  All decidedly physical manifestations of God's presence in our world and just a few examples from the Old Testament.

What's interesting about the idea of pursuing God is that not only is God decidedly incarnate, God is decidedly unpredictable.  When I think of times in Scripture when God is incarnationally present most are unexpected.  Sometimes hoped for, but mostly unexpected.  Moses was not going to the Red see to encounter God's presence; he was going to flee danger.  Yet there Christ was there.  Daniel did not enter the Lion's den to meet Christ.  Yet there Christ was present again.  Nobody would have ever anticipated that the King of creation would be born into a stable.  Yet there he was.  The disciples did not expect to encounter Christ on the road to Emmaus, nor did Paul expect to encounter the resurrected Christ.  Yet there Christ was.

In Numbers 22 it's Balaam's donkey who first sees the angel of the Lord.  In Luke 24 the disciples probably walk for hours with Jesus before they ever realize who they are with.  Why?  Because they weren't ready, they weren't looking, they were distracted, they were probably expecting God somewhere else.

So how do we pursue God in our world?  Is it our job to place ourselves in a time and space to create what the mystics call a "thin space" where we meet Christ?  Sometimes we act as though encountering Christ is some discovery we have made.  I don't really think it's our job to encounter Christ.  I think our job is rather simple: to be faithful to what God has called us to do in daily life and be prepared to meet Christ there.  Maybe it's in a moment of desperate need, maybe simply walking to our next destination, but I think Christ always simply meets us in the time and place of God's choosing.  Our prayer can simply be to be ready and open.  I don't think we've ever been particularly good at pursuing God.  If we were really serious we would probably follow Jesus' most direct instructions in Matthew 25, but even those are decidedly ordinary.  Maybe it's time we stop discounting the multitude of places we may meet Him in common, ordinary life.  The incarnation if a surprisingly and shocking revelation of God's nature to the world.  If Jesus was found in the stable, healed with mud on someone's eyes and shocked the disciples on a boat maybe we should focus less on pursuing and more on meeting Christ where he meets us.