God's Nearness and Remoteness

The promises in God’s word do accomplish much. They cannot fail.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord.” “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55 vs. 8-9

It’s hard for me to imagine or grasp the nearness and remoteness of God. It seems like a pretty obvious contradiction, confusing and frustrating at least. While I was in Haiti it was a daily question to wrestle with.

As a group we started each morning in prayer and gathered each evening to pray and reflect on what happened during the day. These times of sharing were wonderful. This time helped us to sort through what we had seen and done during the day. God was putting adults and children on our path daily and we were building working relationships that we could bring home with us. These moments were also a time to witness how God was touching my fellow travelers’ lives.

As important as this time was to us all, I still had to spend some time daily in my listening prayer mode, this place free from the voices of the world and my own preconceived thoughts. This is where my ahaa moments come. Where clarity and most often a sense of peace seem to flow. This was the place where I could best wrestle with the contradiction of the nearness and remoteness of God.

The ultra poor have a lot to teach us. The women we met in Milabe, in the central plateau in Haiti, couldn’t get their arms around the help that Gautier, our guide, was offering. Their eyes often vacant said it all… show me, walk through this with me. The poor get it. Didn’t Jesus ask the same of his disciples while he was facing the cross and his own death? There was a remarkable difference in the women who had already been walked through the program. Their eyes said… I now have hope. My life has meaning. I can now walk with dignity. This is the power of the living word. Christ, working it all together for the benefit of everyone. Christ in people, Christ here on earth, binding us all together in some mysterious way.

Father God,
We thank you for your life giving word for Jesus who redeemed us from sin. We thank you for your Spirit that has the power to change the world. Grant us the desire and the ability to see with the eyes of your heart. We thank you for the mystery that you are. Amen

Lois Autterson

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Kim wrote:
When I went on a mission trip to Honduras a few years ago, our group asked this question as we gathered to process every night: "Where did you see Jesus today?"

I was surprised to learn that I could see the face of Jesus in the patience and gratitude of an old man who came to our dental clinic to have all his teeth pulled...in the courage and determination of a 5 year-old who walked more than 2 miles to the clinic alone because his mother had 4 more children younger than him to care for at home.

It is in serving that we can truly meet God. And most surprising of all, when we serve the poorest of the poor, as you said, something changes in us....we have a renewed hope, a renewed understanding of life's meaning, a renewed sense of dignity.

Thu, May 21, 2009 @ 7:09 AM

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