Have you ever read the story of “Jacob’s Ladder?” A lot of churches may have preached on it over the weekend. In the story, Jacob has a dream of an incredible ladder which stretches from Earth all the way to Heaven. On the ladder are angels (oh, so many angels), climbing up and down, and up and down again! To top it all off, God appears next to him to assure him that there wasn’t a thing Jacob could do to escape God’s presence. Upon waking up, Jacob’s can only exclaim: “Surely, God is in this place and I did not know it!”
Have you ever sat around a room and wondered if everyone knew something you didn’t? I spent a lot of my life wondering if I was doing something wrong in my spiritual life. I’d look around churches, and meetings, and Bible study groups, and wonder: Why isn’t God speaking to me like them? It looked and felt like God was moving in everyone else but me, even though I was doing everything they were doing. I longed to experience God in the same way as my brothers and sisters in faith. Why did these things seem to work for them, and not for me?
When Jacob had this amazing vision, it didn’t happen after he finished “Visions of God for Dummies.” It certainly didn’t come after he forced himself into prescribed spiritual disciplines for just the right amount of time. No, God came to Jacob in arguably his lowest and most authentic moment. Just when Jacob was trying to escape, God showed up.
We can spend our lives waiting for God at someone else’s address, but chances are that God won’t show up, at least not for us personally. Alternatively, I think God longs for us to figure out what it means to live into authentic self-discovery. When you look within yourself, when you see yourself reflected in others, what truly lifts your spirit and draws you into the heart of God? It may not look the same as Jacob, it may not look the same as me, and it may not look the same as those who seemingly know all the answers, but none of that matters. What matters is that we eventually wake up and declare: “Surely, God is in the place and I did not know it!”