The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.Psalm 33:6
How beautiful. I wish I could see God that clearly in my life as I see the stars every night.
As I do see God in the stars. I feel that awesomeness when I stop my frenzied brain and deeply look. That awesomeness feeling creeps over me and I remember that God speaks and also shows up on my behalf. I use that word “creep” on purpose because that feeling does slowly fill you with overwhelming awesomeness when you do stop the frenzy. When was the last time you let that awesomeness creep over you?
I am worth more than a star to God. I am personally created and spoken to.
It is in my frenziedness when God becomes more invisible.
As C. S. Lewis noted, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito.”
Abraham of the Old Testament often had conversations with God under the stars. One of those conversations is a crazy story. A story where God shows up, Abraham keeps asking and asking and asking, and God keeps saying yes. It is found in Genesis 18:16-33.
16 Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. 17 “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. 18 “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”
20 So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.” 22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham.
First of all, how did the Lord remain with Abraham? Is Abraham also sitting under the stars on an Israeli hillside and recognizing the presence of God? Or is God face-to-face with Abraham? Moses asked to be face-to-face with God and only got his backside. (Exodus 33:18-23). Maybe this was the stars, an unfrenzied moment, speaking to Abraham? I know for me I have had times when God has felt that attentive.
23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” 26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.”
Abraham knew this speaking God so well that he started bargaining with God. Abraham is bargaining with the “I am” for 50 souls. And God says yes.
27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”
So Abraham pressed further. Maybe only 45 souls? And God said yes.
vv. 29-31 has Abraham bargaining with God from 45 souls to 40 souls to 30 souls to 20 souls. And God said yes every time.
32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.
Abraham bargained with God down to 10 souls!!!! Who would dare?!
Well, someone who had already trusted God to leave his family, his business, his heritage, his land, his people to follow God to a new land full of promise. (Genesis 12:1-3). Didn’t that promise happen under the stars also? Abraham already believed God was a speaking God, a God who shows up. Further ahead in the Abraham story there is an even more difficult story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his promise son, Isaac. (Genesis 22). You can understand why Abraham said yes. Abraham had this long consistency of God speaking to him and God showing up.
If you know the Abraham story then you also know that Abraham experienced disappointment with God also. Disappointment that led Abraham to make some dumb decisions. But these disappointments never interfered with Abraham believing that this God who speaks was for him.
Abraham is an inspiration for you and me.
In this crazy Genesis 18 story did you notice that God always answered “yes?”
This Invisible God always answers “yes” to you too.
Yes it is true that 30 years ago I desperately pleaded with God to allow me to marry someone else. God was so invisible in those heartbroken days. Yet God’s yes came in this odd package of John Amodea. I am so grateful.
I have stories and stories like that because I’m not afraid to wrestle with God for everything. With my hindsight wisdom I am so glad that sometimes God’s yes to me was a no, just you wait for what is better. With my hindsight wisdom, I still don’t understand why some of my heart’s desires still have not come to be.
I am learning that God always answers yes.
God is a speaking God, a God who shows up. As I say every week at my church, there is this big God who is for you. A wild God. A God who is beyond our words of description. A God who cannot be figured out so easily yet who is consistently FOR you.
I meet this God under the stars. I meet this God in the conversations with my church people—with fascinating facets! I meet this God in my personal worship. I meet this God in the daily drudge. Yes, even in the daily drudge I catch glimpses. I hear God’s voice directing me. Probably because I’ve seen God say yes to me so many times for over 40 years.
Photo by Vincentiu Solomon on Unsplash.