God Goes With You
Perhaps we were born to dream; to lift our eyes up to the painted clouds and imagine what could be. Sacred moments of stillness and wonder can stir something deep inside, calling us to reach up to the heavens where the seeds of God-sized promises are waiting.
The Patriarchs of old discovered this long ago. Over the last week of Life Journal readings we’ve walked with these men of faith through the formation of God’s people.
It was late one night when God led Abram outside and whispered, “Abram, look up”. Above him the blackened night sky was lit with the glory of the stars -planets, suns and constellations- illuminating the darkness. I imagine He suddenly sensed the weight of the vastness of his God. The One who’d hung these lights in the sky was here with Him now. Holding his hand, leading him out to dream and to journey; speaking into his heart.
And God said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Abram must have realized in that moment that no one can number the magnitude of God. “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5)
A big God can make big promises.
“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him and righteousness.” (Gen 15:6)
But it wasn’t easy. Along the way Abram faced an excruciating wait, dangerous famine, corrupted cities, mighty kingdoms, and tests from God. Dreams often unfold that way.
So Abram held tightly to God along the way, as everywhere his foot stepped became the ground of promise. And Abram became Abraham, the father of many. But when Isaac was placed upon the alter that day (Gen 22) Abraham realized that holding onto the Dream-Giver was more sacred than holding onto the dream.
So what if all our dreams, our hopes, our goals and plans are less about where we are going and more about Whom goes with us? What if the journey is as much the point as the destination?
God whispered something to my heart during this week’s Life Journal readings that stills my inner striving with one simple promise. “I am with you.”
God whispered this promise to Jacob many times.
A striving man, Jacob took advantage of his brother to gain his birthright and tricked his father into receiving the first blessing. He was going someplace and nothing (or no one) was going to stand in his way.
But one night, as he was escaping the wrath of Esau, Jacob had a dream. God revealed to him a door to heaven, where the presence of God met earth. Jacob was moved. He set up an altar and worshiped God there.
“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” God promised. (Genesis 28:15)
Jacob named the place Bethel, “House of God”, to remember that God was there. But maybe what Jacob kind of missed, and sometimes we forget, is that God promised He would go with Jacob. It wasn’t just the location that was sacred, it was Jacob’s journey, Jacob’s life, that God was setting apart to be with.
Not long after that Jacob made it to the land of his mother’s family and found a woman he loved. He worked many years to marry her but was tricked by his father-in-law to marry her sister first. Jacob the deceiver had been deceived. After many years Jacob grew weary of his father-in-law’s shady dealings. Jacob left to go back home with the promise of God again resonating in his ears, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3).
And so He was.
“Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is the camp of God!'” (Genesis 32:1-2)
His promise resonates upon our lives today too.
Could that really be the greatest promise of all?
Jacob had a calling on his life; something only he would do to fulfill the purposes of God on earth. And so do you and I. But the lives of the Patriarchs call out to us that the dream is not more sacred than the Dream-Giver. The most glorious promise of all might truly be, “God Goes With You.”
Maybe we were created with a certain restlessness rooted deep down inside that propels us to chase those beautiful God-dreams, to keep us stepping across valleys and over hills, toward the promises God placed deep inside our hearts. But I am becoming more and more convinced that reaching for the dreams and promises of God will not bring them any closer than reaching for God Himself.
Jacob tried so hard to reach out and grab God’s promises and blessings, even from the very first moment of his birth (Genesis 25:26). But what God repeatedly whispered to him was: I go with you. Oh, Jacob, reach out and grab Me!
May we reach out to grab onto God, holding Him tightly through every season of our journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.