READ : Genesis 28:10-22
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (v. 16)
Encountering God was the last thing on Jacob's mind as he was running away from his angry brother Esau. (See Genesis 27 for details.) From his perspective, God completely surprised him. And that's just it: we can't predict when God will show up. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't make God show up in worship. But God does show up, and we experience him in powerful ways.
Like reading the word “ambulance” through your rearview mirror, the Christian life makes more sense when you look at it backwards. It's awfully hard to predict what God will do next in your life. (I'm not sure I would recommend trying.) But it is possible to look back and see the times when God has been present, when God has acted in freedom, when God has shown up in powerful ways. One of the most important things we can do when we worship God is to remember all that God has done before today. Part of being a human being is remembering the past, and God uses this on our journey of faith.
Can you hold both at the same time? Can you remember the times when God was faithful, and also wait in expectation for the surprising ways God will show up in the future? Can your worship honor the tradition of God's faithfulness while being open to fresh movement of God's Spirit?
Lord, help me remember your surprises.