You have heard it. Observe it all. Will you not acknowledge it? From now on I will announce new things to you, hidden things that you have not known. (Isaiah 48:6)
How exciting. New, hidden things. Adventures are waiting.
Remember a week or so ago when I blogged about “nothing new under the sun”? Does this contradict it?
Not at all. (Although that’s not to say I don’t struggle from time to time with what seems to be contradictions in God’s Word to my limited perspective.)
But in this case, the newness is new to us. It’s being revealed. It’s been hidden. It’s not new to God, nor is it likely new to others. But God knows what we need when. And He knows what we’re willing to acknowledge.
I love learning and adventures…most of the time. Sometimes I appreciate learning and adventures, but they weren’t my favorite lessons and experiences. Some stuff about life is simply difficult. Still worthwhile, and I wouldn’t give it up, but definitely not easy.
I still look forward to learning. I still want God to reveal new things to me. I still want to know Him the very best that I can, because I am never disappointed in who He is.
The first time I visited Israel, it was as if I sliced through a tell and looked at the grandness of the cross-section. As tell (or tel) is a layer of civilization. It’s a mound-like structure created by a long series of human occupation and abandonment. As I experienced the cross-section, I savored as many details as I could, but I mainly tried to see the bigger picture so that I didn’t get confused by disconnected pieces.
I connected more pieces when I returned. I recognized roads and oriented one location to another. I steeped in familiar places and discovered new ones. With nearly every step, something “clicked” as if I could identify something familiar with something new. Not all the connections were between the two trips. Many were between places, stories, people and the Bible. Some involved research and reading I had done in preparation for the trip.
If my first trip was like slicing through a tell, my second trip was sitting at various layers and studying details.
Of course, the more I experience, the more I know there is to experience. The more I know, the more I want to know.
Learning is a lifelong adventure. No matter how much you know, there is more to learn.
Faith is no different.
No matter how strong your faith, it is only a fraction of the faith you can have. We can focus on the faith we have and be content. We can also focus on the faith we don’t have and give up on growing. Neither is productive. Instead, we can claim the faith we have, stand firmly on it, but continue to examine, tear down, build up, and take one more step at a time.
All the people of Israel gathered together in the square by the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the teacher to bring out the Book of the Teachings of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought out the Teachings for the crowd. Men, women, and all who could listen and understand had gathered. At the square by the Water Gate Ezra read the Teachings out loud from early morning until noon to the men, women, and everyone who could listen and understand. All the people listened carefully to the Book of the Teachings. Nehemiah 8:1-3
The Water Gate was where the water supplying the temple flowed into the city. It was a place everyone could gather and learn. While some places were reserved for men, the Water Gate was available for men, women and children. Families could learn together. Mothers could gather and hear. Everyone was welcome.
Learning as a community is a rich experience. It allows us to come face-to-face and listen. We share space, thoughts and lives together. Each of us as individuals experience the same situation differently. We have a different perspective because of where we stand. We have different distractions around and within us. We process what’s heard and seen at different speeds and through different filters.
Yet God’s Word doesn’t change. God doesn’t change. His Spirit works within each of us to coordinate the timing of where we are and what we experience. He can use a distraction to intensify focus. He can use an experience to prime us for sensitivity. He can use a filter to fan the flame of passion.
When have you clearly felt or heard God even if you were among throngs of people?
When have you been distracted among a crowd so you missed what you had gathered to experience?
God speaks to you personally, yet every time you gather with others, it’s not all about you. God can multi-task. He wants to nourish you as an individual, while at the same time he’s nourishing the community of believers around you.
Live It. Identify the distractions throughout your day. Notice how you respond to them. Be prepared at all times to focus on God. Encourage those around you to do the same.