But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.
HEBREWS 12:22-25a (ESV)
If you’ve ever visited another city and made a stop at a large, popular tourist location, like a mall or a theme park or a museum, you probably remember consulting a map. If the place was new to you and your group, there was a big risk in getting lost. Without some sense of direction you could easily waste half a day just trying to get around or walk right past what you came to see. You needed a plan, and that required knowing where everything was, which direction to follow, what route to take. But while all those things were important, they would have been useless without the big red dot.
On any big map in a place like this, one marker sticks out more than all the others. It draws your attention, and it brings a real sense of comfort as you read the words around it.
You are here.
There’s no greater feeling when you’re lost than recognizing something. A building, a billboard, a street sign – what matters to you in that moment isn’t so much what you see but where it places you. Knowing where we stand always brings peace. And not just physically. It’s great to know where you’re walking, so you can get home. It’s also great to know where you stand in a relationship. The air is less awkward. The conversations are more comfortable. Even when restlessness or adventure pushes us out, we try to keep home in sight.
When we become disoriented, when the path gets lost in the fog, it is natural to panic. We might try to retrace our steps or consult a map, but without knowing where we are we can’t figure out how to get where we will be.
I find that I often treat the Word of God like a good map. It’s there in my bag or on my shelf. Some of it is even hidden in my heart. I have located it, it is in my possession, yet it isn’t enough to have access to it. There are times when in a panic I turn to its pages and see no clearer. God where are You? I demand.
This is a natural question, one I suspect we’ve all asked at least once in our lives. We’re waiting for God to show up. If we’re being really honest, we might admit we’re waiting for Him to prove Himself. God where are You in this?
God does answer, but not usually in the way we’d prefer. We want Him to show up and take the script we’ve given Him, tidy up all the loose ends, and blow the fog away so we can start walking again.
That kind of answer is fitting, but it’s not what we need. It doesn’t really answer our question. Think about a time you’ve been lost enough to ask for directions and stood nodding your head, as a stranger pointed and talked, while inside you only grew more confused. Without any recognizable references, you might as well have been talking to yourself.
This is direction without location. God doesn’t answer us like that.
Consider Job, someone like we have been, disoriented by the circumstances of life. He is weary and confused, and he wants to know where God is in all this. Job is bold enough to ask God directly, and in Job 38, God is more than happy to speak. Only He doesn’t offer an answer. God returns Job’s question with a question: Who are you? God asks Job this and goes on to speak of His power in creation and sovereignty over all things. In the question, Job finds a command: Locate yourself.
Kathryn Greene-McCreight writes, “This is God’s response to Job out of the whirlwind, a response that is a question: Who are you in relation to me? The implied answer God would have Job give is: I am yours. And God would agree: You are not your own. You are mine.”
When we find ourselves in the kind of circumstances that lead us to question God as Job did, we want a shortcut to avoid what’s in front of us. But what we actually need is for God to ground us, to remind us where are, to locate ourselves in the dirt we stand on. It isn’t enough to have a map in your pocket. You have to know where you are in the map.
The benefit of having a God bigger than us is that He sees and understands what we can’t. When we stop to ask God where are You in this? He wants us to reverse the question. God where is this in You? Standing humbled before the presence of the Almighty, it’s so much more comforting to learn that everything is in His hands and not ours. When we’re lost and afraid, a map isn’t enough. We need to hear God’s voice first: You are here.
God, ground me today. Show me where I am. In my fears and in my doubts, help me to ask the right question. Remind me that everything is in the hands of a great and powerful God who loves and cares for me. Lead me on Your path. Let no step I take be aimless or thankless. If I feel lost or disoriented, teach me to trust. I know You speak. Don’t let me turn away when You do. AMEN.
How do you approach reading your Bible? Are you looking to fit the words you read into your life? Or are you looking to find your life in the Word of God? The difference might sound subtle, but your approach changes everything. Today as you read the passage above and pray, posture your heart away from “God show me what to do” and more toward “God show me what You do.” We can’t walk the path ahead of us until we realize worship is more about God’s character and power and action than it is about ours.