The God of the Here and Now
Several years ago an acquaintance told me she and her husband were going to travel to Lakeland, FL, where a “healing revival” had purportedly broken out. When I asked them if they were going because they needed healing, they replied that they just wanted to witness “God doing stuff.”
Even though I have nothing against revivals—provided they actually help people grow in their capacity to receive and manifest God’s love, I do get concerned about the assumption that God is “doing stuff” in one place more than another. I’ve known people who have spent a great deal of time and money traveling the world “chasing God” at various revivals, all the while missing what God was doing—and what God wanted to do—in and through their own lives.
The problem is that we have “over-the-rainbow” syndrome. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy thought she could find the life she dreamed of “somewhere over the rainbow.” Her adventures in Oz taught her that, if she looked at things rightly, everything she really wanted she already had at home in Kansas. It’s the same lesson the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion had to learn.
Some think God is more active over there than he is right here. Others think God was more present in the past, or hope he’ll be more present in the future, than he is right now. Related to this, many think that the quality of their life and their relationship with God would have been much better if only certain things hadn’t happened in the past or weren’t happening in the present. Or they imagine the quality of their life and their relationship with God will be greatly improved if only things pan out in the future.
If we can’t discern God’s presence in our day-to-day lives, it’s unlikely that we’ll find him at a revival or some other spiritual event. We may find a lot of excitement, great speakers, superb music, and maybe even some “signs and wonders.” But unless a person learns to find God as much in the ordinary as in the exciting, the exciting will do nothing more than serve as a momentary distraction.
Never suppose God is more “there” than “here,” or more “then” than “now.” For the Father is always working—in all places, at all times, in all people. The steadfast love of God fills the entire earth (Ps 33:15). Your evening at home with your family may not have the fanfare of a great revival, but God is as much at work there as in any revival. And there’s at least as much important kingdom work to engage in there as in any revival.
While there’s no denying that God moves differently in different places and times, the ultimate truth is that God is as present as he ever was or ever will be, right here and right now. And because of this, the fullness of life and intimacy with God you long for is available to you right here and right now, as much as any other place and any other time.
In this light, looking for God in any other place than here or any other time than now amounts to nothing more than a massive distraction. You’re dreaming about what’s over the rainbow, in some mythical land of Oz, and this is the very thing that’s keeping you from experiencing the love and joy that’s all around you in your very own “Kansas.”
—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 134-147
Photo credit: twm1340 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA
READER: In Daniel 10 we read of an angel telling Daniel that he was delayed from giving him the answer to his prayer because of spiritual warfare going on. My question is, are angels always involved in answering our prayers?
Are you inadvertently appealing to magic when you listen for God’s voice? Greg continues his series on hearing and responding to God by pointing out the difference between communion with God and Christian magic. You can view the previous videos here and here and here.
Question: If God can’t always answer our prayers for healing, for example (and I completely understand why—free will etc), then HOW can he promise to bring good out of the bad things that happen? Surely he is powerless to do that too? And if he can bring good why can’t he therefore heal in the…
Jonathan Kos-Read via Compfight Shauna Niequist over at Donald Miller’s Storyline blog shared some thoughts on Why You Should Stop Waiting for Life to be Perfect. She points out that sometimes this waiting for perfection gets in the way of noticing the goodness that is already here for you. Show up to your life today, even…
Despite the fact that the Bible is full of prayerful people, most churches today don’t pray very much at all. In fact, we barely talk about prayer, even though it’s one of the most foundational pieces of the Christian faith. I recently went on a 37,000-mile prayer pilgrimage around the world, a modern re-working of…
In Ezekiel we read a passage that depicts Yahweh as warning his people about their impending punishment by saying, “I will pour out my wrath on you and breathe out my fiery anger against you” (Ezek 21:31a). As we find in several other texts, Yahweh is here depicted as a ferocious fire-breathing dragon—a portrait that…