When God Shows Up

Today we often hear the expression, “God showed up.”

God can’t NOT show up. He is present everywhere, so beyond our capacity to understand that it isn’t just a piece of Him that is presence in every place all the time, but all of Him all the time.

But what people are trying to say with that phrase “God showed up” is that God revealed Himself by doing something special at that moment.

In John 1 we read this ominous statement: “He [Christ] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10, 11).

God was there, but hardly anyone was looking for Him, or noticed Him, or wanted Him. We know that Jesus did not come as the majority of people expected Him to come. Most wanted their Messiah to come at the head of a heavenly army to overthrow the Romans and to free them from being under the thumb of a foreign ruler. Jesus came alone to restore a relationship and to free them from bondage to a much more dangerous enemy (1:12).

They didn’t want a relationship with God; they wanted a revolution against Rome. They wanted temporal as opposed to eternal. God showed up, but they didn’t.

God once told Joshua to not be overwhelmed by the task he was being asked to accomplish because: “...the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:11). And God was with Israel all the time. But God did not always work on their behalf all the time because there were many occasions when Israel was not ready or willing to let Him work, to let Him “show up” in the sense of doing something special for them. Many times they relied on their own ingenuity, their alliances, the false gods they had adopted from the nations around them. God was still there, watching, and waiting to be recognized and received.

I wonder how many times we stumble along relying on our own ingenuity, our alliances with the current fads, the “gods” in our lives that have replaced Him? Don Richardson, missionary and author of Peace Child and Eternity in Their Hearts, reminds us that we all have a longing for something that only the pursuit of the eternal can satisfy. I know God has “shown up” because He is everywhere all the time, but I wonder how often He stands at the sidelines of my life, and at the back of the church, waiting to be recognized and received, waiting to do something special. Our substitutes for Him are pretty sad. And even sadder is the way we deceive ourselves into thinking that what we produce in His Name has anything to do with Him.

We think we know what it looks like for God to “show up,” for Him to do something special. Personally I don’t think we have any idea at all what it is like when God is truly recognized and received.

John describes Jesus as the “glory” of God (John 1:14). I want to see glory. I suspect when it happens it will be much more than simply a case of the “warm fuzzies” that pass for His presence these days.


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