There are several niche stories spattered throughout the Scriptures that delve into this idea of being spiritually awake. Men and women go about their business, only to be interrupted by a divine appointment.
I’ve read these accounts and often found a bit of my story in there too, tucked between the verses. God is saying something here. He’s reminding us to pay attention.
Some of this came to a head when I started to read a fascinating book entitled God Was In This Place and I, I, Did Not Know by Lawrence Kushner. The entire book is about one story in Genesis 28, Jacob’s dream. I worked my way through the book at a snail’s pace because it was that profound.
Kushner is doing several things in the book, but the main one is describing–which is sort of an oxymoron–spirituality and specifically jewish spirituality.
Soaking in his words is no easy task (think fire hydrant to the face). You’re attempting to drink, but you’re too busy keeping yourself from drowning.
In the beginning of the book he says, “The beginning of knowing about God is, in other words, simply paying attention, being fully present where you are…”
A seemingly easy task that I readily admit I struggle with. How often do we find our thoughts, our habits, our dreams concerned with only ourselves?
If God is our highest aim, then why is He a second thought, an ancillary component to our otherwise full and complete lives?
Kushner suggests that at times our prayers and perhaps even our obedience to God is clouded in our own dreams and wants. “God, I will follow you here…because it is something I secretly want as well.”
But what about obeying God on the simple and clear fact that He asks us to?
No pretension. No reward. No fear of punishment from disobeying.
We obey because He asked. And that’s enough.
Reading these pages also reminded me that there are times when I’m sleepwalking through life. I’m alive, but I’m missing it.
I’m not seeing or hearing or tasting or feeling or sensing all that is around me. I’m desensitized to the grandeur and beauty and grace of God that surrounds me everyday.
Because you can live as though this life is a series of to-dos and checklists. You can view God that way too. Or–and this is freeing–you can begin to live awake, full of peace and joy and thankfulness for life.
How many times have I forgotten that God was in that place and I, I, did not know? The reason I didn’t know wasn’t because God showed up all of a sudden.
It was because I was too busy paying attention to myself.
Every breath we take.
God is bursting forth from all of creation. His motivation is love and we are fools if we don’t take time to notice and live in this gift.
I’ve been a sleepwalking fool before. But I want to be awake. I don’t want to miss what is right here, right now.
The call I am championing in my own life is simply this: To wake up.
As Kushner says, “You already are where you need to be. You need go nowhere else.”
What if we held tightly to this moment because God was in this place?
And what if we took our eyes off of ourselves and we, like Jacob in the story, realized we were in God’s presence?
I want to be awake.
I want to be present.
Because God is in this place and I want to be fully aware.
May you, my friends, tap into the reality that you are not alone, but God surrounds you, even now.
And may you fight to wake up, and live in that truth