My sister and my mom went to Israel. We had a family text message thread going where they would send us all pictures with captions like, “This is such-and-such location where Jesus did this-and-that.”
My brother is the family comedian, and in an especially witty moment, he responded to one such message with a picture of himself outside a pizza joint. His caption was, “This is the spot where we have our favorite pizza. Jesus was never here though.”
I could not stop laughing.
It has become a bit of a joke within our home now. “What is that a picture of?” “Oh, That is Sweetie Belle’s ballet recital. Jesus never walked there though.” “Oh! Thats an adorable picture.” “It is. Jesus never walked there though.”
I am not sure if the hilarity is conveying, but goodness, I hope it is.
I got to thinking though. About places I end up and think, “Lord. Where you ever here? Where you ever in this?”
There are some places I end up and I am positive deep down in my core that the Lord brought me there. Do you know what I’m saying?
For example. We just bought a house. (Well. Technically. We bought a plot of land and we currently own a hole in the ground. But the builder tells us it’ll be a house. Here’s to hoping.) But the process of buying the house, and buying THAT house had the Lord’s fingerprints all over it. I have no doubt He was there, He is here, He is right there in it with us.
There would be no text: “Here is our new house, I sure hope the Lord is here with us.” I know. I have no doubt He is right there. It’d be like I sent a picture of my family at our new house and you could see Him standing right there with us – that is how concrete His presence feels in this process.
But other areas of my life…it is not so concrete.
I thought I was following Him. I thought I’d followed His lead. Only to look around and go, “I don’t know that you’re here. I don’t know you were ever here.”
It makes me think of the woman at the well.
6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.[b] She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— 18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[c] where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”[d] (John 4)
If we had a snapshot of this, Jesus would be right there. I mean, right there. With her. Close enough to touch. They are breathing the same air. Sharing words. Sharing a drink.
And she misses it. Completely. He drops all these hints about who He is, and she has no idea.
He gives her time to wrap her mind around it, and yet He still has to spell it out for her at the end.
“I am the Messiah!”
And I wonder how often I am in her shoes. Shouting at the Lord, “WHERE ARE YOU? Why aren’t you HERE?!” While He sits so close my cries are practically deafening.
Because you know, I know better. I know He will never leave or forsake me. I know He is closer than my next breath. I know He holds me and has me engraved on the palm of His hand. That we need not ever fear because He is with us.
Somehow, that head knowledge doesn’t save me in some moments though. I, like the woman at the well, make Him spell it out. Desperate for Him to show me that He is right there – that if I had a supernatural snapshot of where I’ve ended up, I could see Him here with me.
Recently, the prayer that keeps saving me from myself is, “Lord, reveal yourself to me. Show me You.”
I am continually struck my Moses’ plea before the Lord, “Show me Your glory.” Please Lord, show me Your glory.
My cry is that He’d be near and I wouldn’t just intellectually know that He is near, but I would experience it. I’d experience Him. In all the ways He shows up. In all the ways He never leaves my side. That I’d know Him so well. That I’d live so close that I get to reflect His glory.
“You are near O Lord.” Psalm 119:151
Praise Him, He is near.