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Saturday, April 20, 2024

God all around

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“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and night wraps itself around me,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” -Psalm 139:5-12

Truth-telling is always in season. It can be the time of Lent, Pentecost, or Advent; truth is not beholden to any calendar of this world. A truth we need to name is one that was clear to our ancestors and is bubbling over for our attention today. God is more than we can imagine, contain, define, or label with a pronoun. God is closer to us than a hopeful heaven or a seat at Sunday service. God can be found in every direction we turn and in the beat of our hearts.

Let this be a caution about how we characterize God’s activity, for the power of God is at work in every living thing. The spirit of our Creator moves in the buzz of bees no less than in the electric gaze of two people in love. With hurried ignorance and regularity, we cruise right by visitations of the Divine (kindness, compassion, peace, generosity, thoughtfulness, laughter, affection, rhythm, etc.). It is worth reorienting our eyes to see God all around. Such vision will comfort and correct a discouraged heart. It will remind us that our relationship with the Holy is not long-distance.

In her article “Breath and Fire,” theologian M. Shawn Copeland wrote, “We do well to remember that the Spirit cannot and will not be made captive, that the Spirit will not and cannot be tamed. Just as wind blows where and when it wills, so too does Spirit-ruah.” The moment we look around for God in ourselves and all living people and things, we will surely find that which we seek.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful passage of scripture. Many are drawn to or have been taught “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” As powerful as this self-affirmation is in verse 14, the declaration rests on an awe-inspiring theological foundation from the previous verses. The

description of God in verses five through twelve lead us toward the description of self in verse

14. We are indeed wonderfully made because we are designed by a wonderful God who surrounds us, travels with us, touches us, leads us, holds us, and experiences darkness as daylight.

Consider we are siblings with the sun, moon, and stars and have the nerve to forget we are inherently valuable. Take in how deliberate God has been in showing up so many more ways than a check in the mail. “Such knowledge is too wonderful!”

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