Genesis 28:16-17 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
Do you know the story of Jacob? He was the youngest of the twin sons of Isaac. When he was born, he came out hand first, it was grasping to his brotherís heal. The whole of his early life, would be one of grasping, and tension. In many ways, he was a very modern man, (not that this is necessarily good) for whatever Jacob wanted, he tried to grasp and take for himself. And so it came to pass, that one day he found a way to grasp his brotherís birthright, and he tricked his brother into trading this blessing for a bowl of soup. Then he tricked his father into giving him the blessing. For Isaac was old, and he could not see and was tricked into giving Jacob the blessing. At this point it seemed good to Isaac that Jacob should leave for a while, so that there would not be any quarreling and bickering, or any revenge. So Jacob is sent off to his uncles house to find a wife.
Now Jacob had known that God had been with his father, and so when he was sent away, it was as though he was being sent away from God. Sin is like that, it separates us from God, and to this day, no one likes that feeling of separation. The problem today is that many people have never felt close to God, and so the separation from sin, is not enough by itself to move these people to repentance. The problem today is that many people do not know where to find God, or how to begin looking, or how to tell if they have found the real thing. So, where do you find God? A Church may be a house of God, and so we may behave with respect, because it is a house of God. And God is present during the worship service, for we have the promise of Jesus, that when ever 2 or 3 are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them. But during the week, it tends to be quiet and lonely, so that the building by itself often has the effect of bringing out an entirely different feeling, instead of making us feel closer to God, it has the effect spoken of in the Psalm22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? It has this effect, because the first thing we hear when we are brought into the presence of God, is the law, and the law convicts us of sin, it makes us feel guilty, and is given to lead us to repent of sin. Your conscience, if you listen to it, will keep speaking the law to you. But you donít find peace with God through the law. And perhaps thatís the biggest point, you donít find God, rather God finds you.
Jacob was surprised to find God, away from his fatherís house. But as I said, it was God who found Jacob, and God would continue to find Jacob. For every time God found Jacob, Jacob would run away, he was not yet ready to give up his grasping ways. He was not yet ready to receive the grace of God as an undeserved gift, he still thought it could be earned. It would not be until many years latter, that Jacob would stop running away. It would take many years, until Jacob would be willing to repent of his grasping ways. And it happened because God kept finding Jacob, and finally Jacob would repent, and give up his ways, and ask God to teach him how to follow Godís ways. And when that happened, God gave Jacob a new name, Israel. A new name, a new life, and the chief thing was in this new life, there was no grasping, there was instead God ruling, Godís grace providing for all need. If God is ruling your life, it is not hard to see God present where ever you are, for God indeed is everywhere.
The problem is that you cannot prove that God is present here, by science, or by reason. It is not even with our own eyes that we can see God present (for our own eyes are often blinded by sin). It is only through the eyes of faith, that we can see God present with us, throughout our life, in church, and at home, at work and at play. And knowing what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, and walking in his ways, it is peaceful and good. And we rejoice that God didnít wait until we found him, but he kept on coming, and finding us. God is present with us where ever we go. Why? Because at Baptism he came to dwell in our hearts, for Jesus sake. So God be with you all your days, for Jesus sake, unto life everlasting. Amen.