God Shows Up
When was the last time you felt so overwhelmed with circumstances you frantically looked around for a way of escape? In moments like those we can get desperate. So desperate we might just jump on the first opportunity of “escape” that walks by. But if we are too hasty, we may miss something very powerful. We may miss the experience of watching God show up.
The last week of Life Journal Readings have taken us through Job and Mark.
- October 28-31st: Job 19-22; Mark 1-8
- November 1st-4th: Psalm 121; Job 23-27; Mark 9-16
When my husband and I were in Bible College we lived in a cute little apartment near the San Gabriel foothills in LA County. I would stand at my kitchen sink doing dishes (sadly no dishwasher) and look up into the hills, talking to God as I washed. In my mind it was as if He was resting somewhere up in those hills, waiting to hear my cries and carry my burdens away. As I scrubbed and prayed and sang I would experience His presence slowly wash over me. If ever I was troubled I knew I could look up into those hills and God would be there, so very close, waiting for me to look up to Him.
Often I would sing this Psalm:
“I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help come from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Why is it that it helped me so much to look up into those hills? I think there are three simple reasons. I needed to know that:
- God is close, not far away.
- God is bigger than it all.
- God is higher than it all.
In the book of Mark the disciples experience so much adventure with Jesus. He heals the sick, makes the lame walk, sets people free from demons and feeds crowds with almost no food. Mark is a book of action. In this gospel there is less teaching of Jesus and more action of Jesus. He actually uses the word “Immediately” so many times I stopped trying to count them all. In Mark’s gospel account, over and over Jesus showed up! He walked on water to join the disciples. He woke up and stopped the storm. He entered the home of a dead girl and raised her back to life. He showed up!
When we have troubles, we can look up for a God who shows up.
He is close, not far away. He is bigger than our problems. He is higher than our troubles.
Consider Job. He was clothed in nothing but misery and trouble. He was sitting in ashes, covered in mourning, drowning in pain and wrapped in sorrow. His life had become a barren, lonely mess. Have you ever felt something even close that? To some degree, I think we all know emptiness. It can hollow out our hearts and leave us forlorn.
And that is when we most need to know that God Shows Up.
In every case of trouble, pain or shame that hobbled up on shaky legs, Jesus reached out. Until one day when He walked right into the mouth of pain and shame and trouble itself, carrying His cross up the hill of the skull, and let Himself be swallowed up inside. He confronted the emptiness of suffering, pain and …death. And He defeated it, all of it, leaving the grave empty so our hearts would never have to be.
In Christ, every trouble can be transformed. When we feel overwhelmed we have somewhere to look:
We can look up.
“My advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend, as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for His friend.” (Job 16:19-21)
Job saw ahead to today, when Christ sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, interceding for His people. You have an advocate on high! An intercessor and friend! Look up! Can you see Him? Where does your help come from?
Sometimes in our trouble we see more clearly the deeper truths of life. Job saw with spiritual eyes how the great Rescuer would transform pain into purpose. He prophetically proclaimed the future when he said,
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
Job saw how God was going to show up. And we can see God show up in our most difficult moments too.
Because God knows how to show up like nobody’s business.
He shows up in power on the hill of transfiguration. (Mark 9:2-3)
He shows up when you’re hungry in the wilderness. (Mark 6:39-44)
He shows up in disagreements, cutting through selfish-perspective with Kingdom perspective like a knife. (Mark 9:33-37)
And sometimes, He anoints our shortcomings with spit and gives us sight where once we were blind. (Mark 8:23-25)
But maybe most of all, God shows up in His Word. If you need to “look up” for a God who shows up, look into His Word.
Gods Word Is far above every word of man.
Did you know that in Job 26:7-8 Job speak’s prophetically about the universe with scientific insight that wouldn’t be realized by scientists until thousands of years later?
“He spreads out the Northern skies over empty space; He suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.”
The ancient world had no idea how the water cycle worked! They didn’t even know what “space” was and certainly didn’t think the earth hung in it like a ball on a string. But it was written in God’s word thousands of years before man discovered these things through scientific examination.
We can’t always rely on our own understanding. We can’t always rely on our own solutions. We can’t always rely on what we see when we look “around”. But we can always rely on the Word of God. Keep opening it. Keep reading it. Keep looking up.
When we look up to a God who is higher, we find what we need most: Him.
Sometimes God shows up and fixes our problem. Jesus sure did a lot of that. But sometimes God shows up and carries us through our problems. He comforts us, holds us, breathes on us, sings over us. It’s not as important what God does when He shows up as much as it is that He shows up. When God is in the house, the house is full.
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
May you wait for God to show up. In any moment you want to run, hide, or crash, may you stop instead and look up. Look up to a God who is higher and bigger than every mountain of trouble. May you know that He is close, not far away, and that you are His favorite. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.