Last fall I was on the search for a plaque with four simple words: “Immanuel - God With Us.” Do you ever wonder if He has taken a leave of absence?
I was looking for a sign to place in my home as a reminder of a truth I’d come to treasure years ago and became even more meaningful when my husband left unexpectedly for heaven.
Immanuel - God With Us
I mentioned to a loved one that I couldn’t find exactly was I was looking for – even among Christmas decorations. She kindly said she’d make one for me.
On Christmas morning this precious person gave me the painted plaque, but the verse was different. She said, “I thought with Christmas over now you’d rather have a different verse.” Her intentions were well-meaning, and her work was lovely.
I hung the sign in a prominent place but continued my search for the words from Matthew 1:23.
Today the importance of knowing God’s presence is profound in yet one more way. With our nation in the midst of a deadly virus, peaceful protests for racial injustice, and destructive riots, perhaps you’re wondering where God is.
A friend recently texted me a message asking if I had time to talk. I wasn’t available but quickly wrote back to see if her call was urgent.
“Please don’t worry about it. Just trying to work out how to view these times keeping my eyes on Jesus. I am sure there is no rush. We seem to have some time to live through this.”
I feel both an urgency for these answers and the reality that they won’t likely come quickly.
I’ve lived through seasons when talking about current events in my faith circle was appropriate, even seemingly vital. Now feels like such a time.
Where can we go to catch a glimpse of Immanuel – God with us – in the middle of all this pain and sorrow and battle and division? If we believe Jesus came in the flesh to be with us and then was followed by the Holy Spirit with the promise that He’d never leave or forsake us… how do we find Him and then keep our eyes on Him?
One way I’m finding very helpful is in seeking the counsel of others, engaging my family of faith in helping me discover my proper focus. We are talking about not just prayer, which, of course, is important, but also the hard work of understanding and searching for our part in the solution.
I’m starting by seeking wisdom from those who experience life differently than I do as a white American with the ease it has been for me to see my country as a place of freedom, for the ears of the wise seek out.
This is not a wisdom I have, but one I desire. I’m so grateful for the vulnerable, insightful and grace-filled conversations I’ve had with my sisters of faith as we seek to understand and then discover our part in reaching out in love to others.
My mind has been full of questions as I try to understand what is happening and how Immanuel is showing up.
Bob Goff asks questions in his daily devotional that have been giving me courage to find my place in all of this, though that was not his intention when he wrote the book in 2019. Perhaps one of his questions will help clarify a next step for you.
In what ways is God inviting you to step more fully into humility today?
Who in your life is teaching you about the nature of God’s love these days?
What simple truth of God’s do you need to remember today?
Who’s on the opposite side of the table from you in your world? What’s your first step in building connection with them?
What vulnerable step do you need to take next?
Pull Up a Chair: Sitting Still
In this tumultuous season in America, what questions are you taking time to ponder?