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“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16).
A few nights ago, Gage and I spent the evening together playing at the kitchen table. Grandpa was at a meeting at church, so we busied ourselves with Play-Do and waited for him to come home and gasp at our creations.
At three, Gage is right at that age when things begin to be scary. I don’t know if he heard a sound, or just caught sight of one of the trees fluttering in the wind outside our window, but something made him start wondering.
“Grandma, are there monsters outside?”
I told him no. I said even if there were, I’d never let them get him. And I said, “But you know who is way stronger than Grandma?”
It’s a long list, but I only had one name in mind.
He shook his head.
“Jesus. He is way, way stronger than Grandma, and He’s right here with us, and He will take care of us both.”
Gage did not like that. Scanning the room fearfully, he said, “He’s here? Jesus is here?”
It dawned on me that not being able to see Jesus in the room was disconcerting to a three-year old mind.
“Would you like Him to be in heaven?”
He nodded. “He can be in heaven.”
“Okay,” I said. “But we can still talk to Him.”
So we did. We asked Him to watch over us and keep all the scary monsters away, amen.
Most of us believing grown-ups don’t want Jesus to be in heaven, and not with us, but neither do we always remember that He is in fact, in the house. But then something happens … and we do. We sense His presence, or our hearts hear a whisper and we know He’s right there, speaking and revealing His mysteries to us. As Dave reminded our church on Sunday, we are “mystery-knowers” because God has chosen to reveal the deep things of Himself to us. And when that’s happening, you can’t help but know that He’s there.
Over the years, we’ve had several incidents where people were suddenly aware of God’s presence in an almost tangible way. When my son, Zac, was eight, he told us on the way home from church, “I saw something in Sunday school. When Jesse was reading the Bible and teaching us, I looked up and saw things that looked like gold falling on our heads, and it was wisdom.” One of my very favorite Zac memories.
Another time, a 16-year old girl came up to Dave after church and told him, with tears in her eyes, “While you were teaching, I saw two angels standing next to you, one on your right and one on your left.” God was in the house, guarding the going out of His Word. Another time, an older woman said the same thing, only she saw just one angel. Yet another time, a woman told me that while I was teaching at our retreat, she saw a glow on the wall behind me. She said she kept rubbing her eyes and looking from wall to wall, trying to see if it was just her eyes, but the vision was only in that one place, and she saw it only while the Word was being read.
Some will scoff at those accounts, but I don’t. I’ve felt God near me too often to doubt that His angels are too. His Word is clear that He has given them charge over us, which, in my book, means they need to be on the scene pretty much all the time. And in those moments when one of us gets a longed-for glimpse of the divine, it just opens our eyes a little further to that truth.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Jesus, make us to know it.