“Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not” (Gen 28:16).
This verse comes from the story of Jacob fleeing from Esau, his brother. Jacob had deceived his brother, and now Esau is seeking revenge. As he fled, Jacob came to a city, but he had come too late. The gates were shut. Here he was, thinking he was all alone, running for his life. He slept on the hard ground with nothing but a stone for a pillow. In the night he had a dream. In the dream, God spoke to Jacob. He said “… I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest …” (Gen 28:15).
Jacob learned that night that God was with him, no matter how alone he might feel.
If you study the Bible, you will find many places where God unexpectedly met with people.
God meets us in the common places of life. He met with Moses out in the desert as he tended the sheep. He got Moses’ attention with a burning bush that was not consumed. Exodus, Chapter 3 tells us that when Moses turned aside to see the strange sight, God spoke to him out of the bush. “… put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (v. 5) Common ground becomes holy ground when God is there. It was a wilderness, a desert, a bush, but it was holy ground. Friend, God wants to reveal himself to you in a real way in your everyday life. You can have a relationship with the God of the universe.
God meets us in the crises of life. We see this illustrated many times in the Bible. In John, Chapter 11, Jesus met with the family and friends of Lazarus as they wept at Lazarus’ tomb. Verse 35 says simply, “Jesus wept.” He met them at their place of deepest need and sorrow. Then he reminded them that He has power, even over our greatest enemy, death. He spoke the words, “Lazarus come forth.” (v. 43) He who had been dead for four days came out of the grave alive. God wants to meet us at the place where we have buried our hopes and our dreams. He wants to meet us even in those times of greatest sorrow when our dearest loved one has died, and remind us that He is the resurrection. He wants to remind us that this life is simply a preparation for the life to come. He wants us to see that there is a light even in “the valley of the shadow of death.”
God meets us at the crossroads of life. If ever a man was at the crossroads of life, it was Saul (later known as Paul) as he journeyed toward the city of Damascus. His intent was to find and persecute any who called themselves by the name of Christ. The story is recorded in Acts 9. It says that suddenly a light shone from heaven, and he fell to Earth. He heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him, and he responded with an obedient heart. From that moment his life was transformed. That moment for him was a crossroad. He turned from the way of destruction, to the way of truth. He turned from sin to salvation. It all happened because he had an unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ.
These stories are an encouragement to us, because we realize that there is no place on this Earth that is outside of the reach of God’s grace. Rest assured, you are never alone. God is seeking to reveal himself to your heart. Whatever the circumstances of your life, He is seeking to draw you to himself. Yield to His voice, and you will find his grace to be sufficient for your need.
Duncan is pastor at Lewiston Bible Missionary Church.