In the Office: The Unexpected Presence

In today’s Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, we find a familiar story from Genesis 28. Jacob is fleeing from his brother Esau, from whom he has just stolen his father’s blessing, and when he stops for the night he has a dream. The LORD appears to Jacob and promises both His blessing and His ongoing presence; and when Jacob wakes up, he says:

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Gen. 28:16)

genesis28-16Who knows how many places we will be today where the LORD is present and is just waiting for us to become aware of it? Will there be circumstances through which He wants to guide us? Will there be challenges through which He wants to grow us? Will there be people through whom he wants to express His compassion for us – or to whom He wants us to become messengers of compassion? And when we become aware of God’s presence, how will we respond?

It’s worth noting, I think, that Jacob’s initial reaction is not exactly one of “spiritual delight.” The text continues:

He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)

I tend to believe that Jacob was afraid because he recognized that the presence of God always makes a claim on us. Life can’t be the same once we meet the One who invades our lives with both His promise and His call; and yet, the path to which He invites us is the only one that leads ultimately to blessing – both for ourselves and others.

May you become aware of God’s unexpected presence today. And may His promise make you eager to walk in the Way that leads to Life.

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