Overwhelmed By God in a God-Absent Place

Last Sunday we talked about Ezekiel 1. You saw my most terrible rendition of the passage on a white board. In case you missed it – here’s what you missed.

Yes it was that bad…

The point though was that this is a difficult passage to picture, it’s a difficult passage to understand, it’s overwhelming and even a bit odd. So what we wanted to discover was what does this passage mean for us?

I asked each of you to think of one place where you assume God isn’t in your life. The reality is that we each have these places where our experience tells us God just isn’t there, or that active. That in this relationship, that workplace, that family, that street, that place God doesn’t seem to be there.

But as we discovered Ezekiel was in a place where God was supposed to be absent and gone. He was in a far away land, in a different god’s land, his temple was gone, his connection with God was strained and he felt alone.

But what is so amazing is what God does.

He shows up and overwhelms Ezekiel with his presence and a vision. That even though Ezekiel was sure he was in a place God wasn’t, God shows up. Amidst all the amazing details of the vision, one incredibly important one stands out. Ezekiel had a vision from God, a connection with God, in Babylon, a place God wasn’t supposed to be.

So what we can learn is that even those places in our lives where we feel or think God is absent or isn’t active – that he can show up and surprise us. There is no place in our lives thatis absent from the presence or activity of God. And on Sunday we prayed that in those places where we feel alone, that this week God would surprise us, overwhelm us, and connect with us just like he did for Ezekiel.

So as you go off to school and you feel God isn’t there, as you enter that workplace that seems so dark, as you meet with that friend where it seems God is no where near…may you discover him today just as Ezekiel did in a surprising, life changing and deep way.

Because this vision is a reminder to us that when we feel far from God, and alone, that today could be the day he shows up, surprises us, and changes our lives…

Group Discussion Questions:

– What places in your life does God feel most absent? Where do you wish he would most show up? What do you think Ezekiel felt after that encounter with God? Do you trust that God can show up even in dark places? Who can you have commit to continue to pray for you that God surprises and shows up for you?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

– Spend time with your kids asking them – is there anywhere God can’t be? Ask them how they know God is with them? Then spend time sharing with them that God is always with them, and that they know that from the Bible and God’s promises (i.e. Hebrews 13:5)

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

A little while ago I was at a party and I discovered Jesus was already there.

One of the biggest guiding beliefs in my life is that Jesus is active in the world already. He is a person, he is risen, and he is already active in places before I get there. So my goal is to find out where Jesus is active and to partner with him there. I just want to join in with what he is doing and where he is.

This happened at a party I was at. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Jesus was already working there because some of his best work happens in parties in the New Testament. But as I mingled and listened, I realized how Jesus was working in people’s lives and I just sought to affirm what he was doing in their lives.

One conversation started with this, “I’m not really religious, and I don’t know if you believe in God or anything. But here is what God did in my life…” We went on to talk about how this person found a prayer answered. After a while of talking they stopped and said “enough about me, what do you do?”  I said “I’m a pastor.”  They responded with “So you probably do believe in God then eh?” Great stuff right. God was already active in their life, I just got to affirm Jesus’ part of their lives and encourage them to keep on seeking God.

A second conversation began with simple confession, that a few followers of Jesus restored this person’s hope in humanity. A few different Christians had given them grace through practical expressions of love. They shared with me that these small gifts restored their hope in humanity, and an opening to God. That’s Jesus actively working in their hearts.

So my challenge for you this week is simple. Watch for Jesus and expect that he is working in people’s lives already. And when you see him active, encourage, affirm, and bless. Partner with Jesus in the lives around you and my guess is that you’ll start seeing some beautiful change and transformation…