Is God hidden in plain sight?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed. “Where did he get all this?” they asked. “What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? 3 Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?” And so they rejected him. Mark 6:2-3 Good News Translation

6  I felt secure and said to myself, “I will never be defeated.” 7  You were good to me, LORD; you protected me like a mountain fortress. But then you hid yourself from me, and I was afraid. 8  I called to you, LORD; I begged for your help: 9  “What will you gain from my death? What profit from my going to the grave? Are dead people able to praise you? Can they proclaim your unfailing goodness? 10  Hear me, LORD, and be merciful! Help me, LORD!” 11  You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy. 12  So I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you. LORD, you are my God; I will give you thanks forever.
Psalm 30:6-12 (TEV)

In the movie Gandhi, the young Indian lawyer and a white clergyman are walking together on a boardwalk in South Africa, contrary to its laws at the time. Some brutish-looking young white men threaten to harm them, but the ringleader’s mother calls from a window and commands him to go about his business.
When the clergyman exclaims over their good luck, Gandhi comments, “I thought you were a man of God.” The clergyman replies, “I am, but I don’t believe he plans his day around me!”
A cute point, but beneath it lie beliefs that make it difficult to take seriously the possibility of divine guidance. One of those beliefs is that we are not important to God. But we were important enough for God to give his Son’s life for us and to choose to inhabit us as living temples. Obviously, then, we are important enough for God to guide us and speak to us whenever it’s appropriate. 

There he was, in the village, doing things that boggled the mind of those who knew Him. Teaching in ways that were simple, yet profound. The reports of the miracles that He had done were overwhelming, there was too much evidence to deny that this man who grew up in their midst was a divinely empowered prophet, and perhaps more.

But they rejected Him, their unbelief robbing Him of the opportunity to do something, anything in their presence. The one who drove out demons, the Lord who healed so many, who raised people from the dead, was tuned out, turned away, unable to help the people He loved.

It is the same thing in David’s psalm, as David describes being safe in God’s presence, too terrified because he couldn’t find God, no matter how hard he looked. And the pastor walking with Gandhi, who failed to see God’s intervention, which even the lawyer/philosopher was able to discern.

This is far more common in the church that we think. We know so much about God, that we reject Him from being our God. We are familiar with Jesus, but we fail to be united to Him, we fail to interact with Him in a way that is, for lack of better word, intimate, We fail to have the communion with Him, we fail to depend on Him, and we think He is hidden from us.

He is not hidden, or if He is, He is hidden in plain sight.

So how do we end this rollercoaster ride that David describes? How do we grow in our discernment of God’s presence, of His love and mercy being poured out on us, as He promises it will be? How do we constantly stay aware of God, seeing Him as He reveals Himself to us?

warning: this answer may piss you off 

You cannot. You are as human as David, or the pastor Gandhi encountered.

This is not something we can accomplish by the force of our will, just as we cannot live a life that is not impacted by our sin. Trying to do so will only result in feelings of guilt and shame, and even more lack of awareness.

I am not saying that we cannot grow in awareness, and more importantly, grow in our ability to trust in God when we can’t see Him. We can learn to search Him out, knowing where we can find Him, rather than just dwelling in the moment we lost track of Him.

This we can do, especially if we have friends around us, able to encourage us when we struggle. For that is part of what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

But even more, we have to learn from the story of the prodigal, we have to trust that God wants us home, we have to know we will be welcomed home. God wants us to realize His presence in our lives, not just as an observer, but as an active participant, empowering us, encouraging us, correcting us, and yes, comforting us.

He’s promised to do all that and more, and in our weakness, we realize how great that promise and that strength is.

So relax, look around, and realize He is your God.

Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 29, 2018, in Dallas Willard, Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I tead your blog and realize that I also feel the guilt and shame of not living up to God’s expectations and somehow thinking that I can “accomplish this by the force of my will”.’.Thanks for helping me to see that God is a loving and forgiving Father,who wants a relationship with me and my part is simply to say yes to the relationship.

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