Surely The Lord Is In This Place, And I Knew It Not
On My Own, and Alone
One of the most wonderful feelings I have encountered as a Minister of the Word of God, has been to hear visitor's to our church, when asked to give a word, come to the podium and say, Surely the Lord Is In This Place.
I am always honored by the Spirit and Presence of God being with us during our time of praise and worship.
Genesis 28: 11-16,
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I Am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I Am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, " Surely The Lord Is In This Place, And I Knew It Not."
After Jacob, grandson of Abraham, and son of Isaac, had tricked his father out of the blessing,which should have gone to Esau, his twin brother, Jacob had to flee from the anger and wrath of Esau.
Rebekah, Jacob's mother, instructed him to go to her brother Laban's house in Haran, so that Esau would not kill him for taking the blessing that was his, especially after being deceived of his birthright for a bowl of soup. Jacob was a deceiver and a trickster. Jacob's name means a supplanter.
Many times, as we read the word of God, we can see families, much like our own, that were separated and dysfunctional. Jacob, like many of us, grew up in a dysfunctional family where there was damaging splits and favorites. Isaac, the father, loved Esau, while Rebekah, the mother, loved Jacob, and was party to him tricking Isaac out of the blessing of Esau.
Jacob had grown up under the skirt-tails of his mother, and even the bible let's us know that Jacob hung around the house with his mother, learning to cook. Jacob had never ventured away from home, or been alone before. His mother had always been there to shield and protect him. And now, here he is, fresh out of tricks and forced to run for his life, crossing a wilderness during the blaring heat of the day, compelling his legs to carry him as far as they could before giving out.
When it became too dark for him to travel any further, and the cold of the night was upon him, Jacob found a place to light for the night. As Jacob lay his head upon the rocks that he had gathered for his pillows, and began to sleep, from his sheer exhaustion, he dreamed, and in his dream he saw a ladder that reached from the earth to heaven. He saw the angels ascending and descending, and he saw God standing in the heavens above the ladder.
What a wonderful, frightening, beautiful, awful, marvelous, and dreadful sight it must have been for Jacob. To see God, in all his glory and dominion standing above the ladder in the heavens, to hear as God revealed himself as the Father of Abraham and Isaac, and to receive a promise of blessing and protection from God.
And as Jacob awaked out of his sleep, He said to himself, " Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not."
Again, many of us are like Jacob. Many of us faithfully attend our churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples week after week to praise and worship God. We perform our religious duties and requirements, but we fail to receive enlightenment, because we've always looked to and depended upon someone else, someone other than God.
Surely God is in our churches and places of worship, but our lives are consumed with us. We are so into ourselves, and the things, places, and people that are important to us and our well being, that we forget about the presence and spirit of God.
We have become so engrossed in completing a service, one that goes without a hitch, where our song is on key, and not a note is missed, so that we can receive the accolades of our brethren as we exit the building.
Our attention and our focus has been snatched away from God.
We contemplate our resources, our jobs, our materialisms, and we forget that God is present with us, and that our purpose for being, is to give him honor, praise, and glory.
Our cathedrals and mega-structures are filled to over-flow with Saints who could without hesitation tell you who came with whom and what horse they rode up on. Or whose tie didn't match their shirt, or whose blouse was too revealing. But these same Saints, would be in dire straits if asked when the Spirit of God was made manifest during the worship experience.
Many people are now running for their lives, and many people are running to the church. But no one wants to climb Jacob's ladder, and recognize that God is in the place. God wants to pronounce himself to our hearts, speak peace and forgiveness to our spirit, and offer us generational blessings in spite of us, and who we were, or what we've done.
We are now standing in the gate of heaven, and worshiping in the house of God, with an opportunity to climb Jacob's ladder, " Surely The Lord Is In This Place, But We Knew It Not."