Presence

The With-God Life

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

The Lord God: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land.  For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen 28:15a

Jacob: “Surely God is in this place and I did not know it. How awesome is this place…this is the gate of heaven. If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go…then the Lord shall be my God.” Gen 28:16,20-21

My husband has a large world map in his man cave and he has put a circle around  all the countries we have visited. There are a lot of circles. It has been our joy and privilege to visit 50 countries together. Please enjoy Pancho talking about the map in a children’s message for our church:

God’s Promise. In the account of Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28, he sees a ladder set up on earth that reaches to heaven. The angels of God ascend and descend on the ladder with the Lord God standing above saying, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father…The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring…and all the families of the earth shall be blessed through you. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Jacob’s Promise. Jacob wakes up and realizes that the Lord God is with him at that location and time in history, so he takes the stone he was using as a pillow and anoints it with oil. The rock marks the location where he met the God of heaven and earth and with the promise of God’s presence, he makes his own promise to worship the Lord God: “The Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

God continues today to meet us wherever we go. He brings us back to the place where we first encountered the Divine Presence. That place for me was at a park in Austin with a High School friend who answered my questions until there were no more. There was a dream too, weeks before of what my life would be like without the “with-ness” of presence. My response to God’s promise to be with me wherever I would go was, “Yes Lord. I love you.”

Spiritual Practice of Stacking Stones. Stacking or balancing stones is a popular zen or yoga-like practice of focusing and quieting the mind and spirit. Stones are sacred symbols in many faiths and in this Biblical story of Jacob, an altar expressing celebration and promise of the with-God life. Stones can mark the place of awe and delight in creation and in our creator God. Take time on a walk or outing to pick up some stones and stack them. Assign meaning to each stone such as something you are grateful for, or a personal request, or a person in your life. Offer a prayer over each stone. Renew your promise or commitment to God.

Be mindful: Environmentalists point out that when rocks are permanently shifted, insects lose their homes, and plant life can be eroded. Stones stacked in streams also disrupt the flow of water over time and alter landscapes.

Renovaré has an index of spiritual practices including the With-God Life. Click the button.

Memorize and Reflect. “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:15

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