As I turn the page on another year, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection. Milestone birthdays are like that. In fact, the older you get, it seems that every birthday is like that! We look back on the things that we have done and those things that we simply put on the back burner.
There’s something else that I’ve been reflecting on – the fact that at every season of my life, in good times and in bad times, God has been there. A professor once had us to write a spiritual autobiography. We had to go back to the earliest memory of our lives and chart our journey up to the present. Wait, there’s more! After that, we were to go back and reflect on where we saw God in those moments. Perhaps you had a relationship that ended, but down the road you met the love of your life. Or maybe you had prayed for a child to know the Lord, and as an adult they are talking to you about spiritual things. I commend this spiritual act to you as well. Give it a try and discover the many ways that God was working behind the scenes of your life. It’s amazing!
What we come to realize is that God’s hand has been at work in all the seasons of our lives. We are not on this journey alone – God sees us! That’s the story of Hagar, the young maid servant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Hagar found herself in a system that subjugated her very being, with no autonomy, and no ability to say no to the powers that be. After being kicked out of the camp for doing exactly what her mistress had asked her to do, Hagar finds herself in the wilderness, scared and alone (or so she thought).
Then the miraculous happened. An Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar! To this lowly, second or even third-class person, the Angel not only appears but calls her by her name, “Hagar!” A conversation takes place that ends with God promising a blessing to Hagar and the child she was carrying, Ishmael. Hagar was surprised:
“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her,
You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees [El Roi]; for she said,
‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’”
Genesis 16:13, NKJV
Hagar had a goosebump moment with God! She was cast out, alone, and abandoned. Maybe she felt that no one cared, that she had been used by her mistress for personal gain. Maybe you’ve felt that way, too. Betrayed by the very person you were trying to help.
How do we deal with feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and betrayal? We remember that there is Someone watching over us! And even when we’re not seeking God, God sees us. Even when we’re running from God, hiding from God, God sees us because God is with us...
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
Matthew 1:23, NRSV
[Jesus speaking] “And remember, I am with you always,
to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20, NRSV
“So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’”
Hebrews 13:6, NRSV
Take heart, church! No matter the situation, even when it’s cold outside, even when it rains all night, even when you lose your way, you will get through because there’s Someone watching over you (song by Yolanda Adams). Who is that Someone? El-Roi, the God who sees! The One who looked beyond all of our faults and saw all of our needs! What amazing grace, what a love Divine! Glory to God!
Join me this Sunday as we glorify The God Who Sees. Join us in-house at 10:00am, or you can also join us online. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Bach in the House! This Sunday at 3:00pm experience Bach’s Double Violin Concerto and 5th Brandenburg Concerto as part of our Soltau Concert Series. The sanctuary will be filled with music that will touch your heart and feed your soul!
Month of Service continues with 2 more service dates in honor of the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - January 26 at LifeWise and January 30 at the church on behalf of Home Sweet Home. The details and sign-ups are on our website. May we never grow weary in well doing!
In Sympathy: Let us keep Bruce and Sallie Pittman in prayer in the passing of Bruce’s sister-in-law, Belle Pittman, in West Virginia. Bruce and Sallie are traveling to the service, so we pray for comfort as well as safe travel.
Thanks! Thank you for the outpouring of love for my birthday! I treasure every thought and gift of love, and I pray that you too experience the joy of the Lord as you celebrate your birthday in 2022!
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26, NRSV