Genesis 28:16 “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Jacob knew it was time to get out of Dodge. He had deceived his brother Esau and stolen his blessing as the firstborn. Esau vowed to kill him. So he fled. He headed for his mother’s homeland in faraway Paddan Aram. But his journey brought some unexpected twists…. like encountering God.
God does that at times, doesn’t he? Shows up at places when we least expect it…or deserve it. Jacob, all alone and anxious about his future, stopped on his journey to rest. That’s when God appeared to him in a dream. God promised to watch over him and someday bring him back to build through him a great nation. Jacob, filled with awe, named the place Bethel—the house of God—and proclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
I believe God appears in a lot of places. But like Jacob, we just don’t know it. We’re not expecting him, so we don’t look for him.
Sometimes I get a glimpse…
On summer Sunday nights I used to take my mom to community lawn concerts. She loved music, no matter what the venue. She’d tap her toes and clap her hands, mouthing the words to anything from God Bless America to Moon River. Those Sunday nights proved to be special times. I hadn’t been back since her death…until recently. Immediately I was struck with her absence. I missed her.
During the break, the lady next to me struck up a conversation. Turns out, the 93 year-old woman came every week. Although she looked nothing like my mom, her eyes twinkled with that familiar octogenarian gratitude for another day of living. She engaged me until the band opened the second half when she (like Mom) started to move with the music. Her presence brought me a comfort I didn’t even know I needed.
How likely that out of the hundreds of people at the concert I would have happened to be sitting next to a woman who reminded me of Mom? Not very. You might call it coincidence, but I believe it was a “Surely the Lord was in that place and I did not know it” moment. He showed up in an unlikely place to speak to me in an unlikely way.
He will do the same for you…