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Stopping God

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Stopping God

Tom Elenbaas

Do you ever feel like the world is just passing you by? Like things are in fast motion and you wish you could push the rewind button or even the pause or stop button for just a moment? 

I've often wanted to just capture a moment and revel in, savor it, or dwell in it. Isn't that a bit of what pictures are about... trying to just capture the moment in a quick snapshot? 

There's an interesting moment in the life of Jesus when his friends have what we might call a transcendent experience. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John on a hike up a mountain where they have a powerful experience with Jesus. He is literally transformed before their eyes, and in addition, Moses and Elijah show up. This is quite a day. Peter, in his normal Peter way, says, "Hey... let's pitch out tents here." (cf. Mark 9)

That might seem strange, but it's actually really normal if you think about it. We want the powerful transcendent moment to last, the spiritual high, the God interaction. It reminds me of the moment that Abraham has in Genesis 18 when he encounters the three visitors (trinitarian reference?) and says the following word:

"If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by."

Do not pass me by. Don't leave me. Don't let this moment end. Stay... just a moment longer. I don't know what this means, and I need a moment. Please... don't leave. I imagine you've been there, when God shows up - even for the briefest of moments - you want him to stay. You want a chance to get your bearings and not only savor it, but understand it. Linger, Lord. Loiter, God. Hang for a bit. Stay for a while. Do not pass me by. You may know the old spiritual from the 1800's written by Frances Crosby that expresses this longing. This old poem expresses the deep human desire for the space to be with God in the midst of the confusion, the pain, or even the powerfully poignant moment:

Pass me not, O gentle Savior, hear my humble cry;
While on others you art calling, do not pass me by.
Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry,
While on others you art calling, do not pass me by.
Let me at your throne of mercy find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition, help my unbelief.
Trusting only in your merit, would I seek your face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit, save me by your grace.
You, spring of all my comfort, more than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside you? Whom in Heaven but you?

Great question, isn't it? Who on heaven and heart do I have but you? The desire for Jesus to stop, listen, linger, and just be with us is a deep and powerful desire. The desire is real. Our longing is real. We long for connection, for affirmation, and for confirmation that we are ok and it's going to be ok. And we want it particularly with and from the only one who can really speak deep into the recesses of our souls in the personal caverns we do even know how share with others because they go beyond words. You know, the places where words are empty? 

This is what makes the incarnation so powerful. "God with us." Immanuel. God, the Word, became flesh and made his dwelling among us. He condescended, which mean he came down to be "with" us. To dwell with us. To sit with us. To remain with us.

You may feel alone. You may be alone. But you are never alone.

You may feel abandoned. You may feel rejected. But you are never alone.

With. He is with you. He is near you. He does not pass you by. I know sometimes it feels that way, but if you listen, look, wait, and watch, you will find that He is and has been there all the while. 

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." - Deuteronomy 3:8b

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