Thursday, December 19, 2013

the storm and the cloud

It’s time for the weekly installment of being uncomfortable, brought to you by Bill Johnson, author of “Face to Face with God.”  Chapter 4 is titled “His Manifest Presence” and is all about God revealing Himself.  He says that “God’s face is revealed in outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” God’s face. He talked in the chapter about how Moses quite literally saw the face of God. Are you uncomfortable yet? Wait, there’s more.   “But not all can recognize God’s face in the outpouring of His spirit. When the rain of the Spirit comes, most people fixate on the effects of the storm and miss the One revealed in the cloud. The extreme joy, the weeping, the shaking and trembling, the visions and dreams, the healing… are all revelations of His face. Some people love these manifestations, and some people reject them. But the sobering thing to realize is that our response to the move of the Spirit is not a response to manifestations. Rather, it is a response to the face of God. To reject the move of the Spirit of God is to reject the face of God.”
            Okay, let’s back up. First let me make a disclaimer that I am not a theologian and am not representing the views of the Presbyterian church.  And I don’t agree with his generalization that each of these instances is the face of God.  We can’t know that either way. However.  Let us not be so quick to dismiss a manifestation of God because it makes us uncomfortable or we disagree with it. What if we are the ones who are wrong, and we are attributing the manifestation of God to something else? What would we be missing?
            Healing happens. Period. My dad has been healed of long-term clinical depression and high blood pressure.  My dad, who happily took medications for years for these issues. You have to listen to his sermon about it, because he tells the story best. I know we have all heard stories of healing and it so easy to dismiss as some medical anomaly or even doubt the authenticity.  But, sometimes, and certainly in my dad’s case, this is a manifestation of God, and we choose how we respond.
            And yet here we are in the Advent season, anticipating the birthday of our Savior.  God manifested Himself as a baby. Let us celebrate this manifestation as we should, and seek Him outside the manger as well.
Beth Kropf