From the Community Spiritual Director

 
– – May 17, 2020 – –

GOD IS VERY NEAR

O God beyond all praising we worship You today
And sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay
For we can only wonder at every gift You send
For blessings without number and mercies without end
We lift our hearts before You and wait upon Your Word
We honor and adore You, our great and mighty Lord.

God is not far from us. In Him we live and move and have our being.
We are His children.

On his 2nd missionary journey, the Apostle Paul came to the Greek city of Athens, an academic and religious center for centuries, home to Socrates and Plato, site of major temples such as the Parthenon. It was a challenging place to evangelize. There were many pagan temples and idol statues all over the place. Though highly educated the Athenians were ignorant about the One True God. After sharing in the Jewish synagogue Paul gave his witness in the public square and even debated epicurean and stoic philosophers. With the Athenians being very curious about any new ideas, Paul was invited to speak before the city council at Mars Hill.

During his walks through Athens Paul had come upon an altar dedicated “to an unknown god.” He began his witness by 0bserving how extremely religious the Athenians were. He mentioned the altar to the unknown god and began to share about the God of the Christians which the Athenians did not know. This was the Creator, the Lord of Heaven and Earth. This God does not live in human made temples and is not served by human designed rituals. This God is the source of all that exists, including life itself. He created human beings and guided their settlements through the earth. He put into their hearts the desire to search for Him. Paul then quoted Greek writers saying that God was not far from them, that in God humans lived and moved and had their being, that they were children of God. This God is not an idol made of gold or silver, stone or wood, for He is Spirit and is supernatural. This God is calling people to repent of worship of idols and to come to Him in trust, He is the ultimate Judge of all humans, doing this through Jesus Christ, His Only Son, who rose from the dead. Though it initially appeared that the outreach in Athens was not that successful, there were two converts to Christ mentioned in Luke’s account of Acts, one of whom became the leader and first bishop of the church in Athens.

In this quarantine it is very possible that some of you are feeling discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, despondent, or angry, It is very possible that you are wondering where is God in all of this mess. In the story of Paul’’s visit to Athens there is a timely message for us: GOD IS VERY NEAR. He is the still the Creator, the source of Life and Being, still the Ruler of the universe. There is a quality to God called Providence, which could be defined as God’s care for us. This quality is all around us surrounding us like an atmosphere, whether we are aware of it or not. In God we live and move and have our being, Even more than that we are His children, His sheep, the work of His hands. And for Christians, we are in covenant with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As written in Ecclesiastes, God has placed eternity in our hearts that we would seek after Him. God reaches out to us even before we come to know Him, through the circumstances of our lives and the people around us. At first, He is to us the unknown god, but as we seek Him, He gives us the grace to find Him, open our lives to Him, and receive His saving grace. He is not far from any of us.

I got a small book entitled A TIME TO SELAH, Selah is the break in some of the Psalms when the congregation is supposed to ponder what has already been sung, to meditate on it. The author believes that this virus time is being allowed by God as a time when we draw near to God, a time when a lot of our distractions are taken away, a time when we can come to the Garden and meet with God and surrender to the work of the Gardner in our lives. It has been said that it really is a gift when the time comes when God is your only option. God is removing the weeds from our lives, pruning us for His promotion, refining us in His holy fire to make us ready for His great purposes for us. Bishop Cho used to have a prayer, “Your will, O Lord, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else!” God is trying to bring us to a place where we desire closeness to Jesus, a place where nothing else will do.

God is very near, we live and move and have our being in God, and we are His very own children He is very near to us in this wilderness time of uncertainty. We can choose to draw near to Him, and as we do He promises to draw near to us. When we do He will take even the sorrows of our lives and gave us grace to triumph even in and through them and rise to bless Him still. God is on the throne, God rules, God has the last Word. We can honor this God, not unknown but near to us, our God beyond all praising,

Then, hear O blessed Savior, accept the love we bring
That we who know Your favor may serve You as our King
And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill
We’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless You stil
To marvel at Your beauty and glory in Your ways
And make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.

De Colores!
Paul Beighley
Community Spiritual Director