There are many moments of blessing that God gives us if we are looking for them. This is one of those moments that recently happened to me in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.
As I write this article, I am on Lufthansa Flight 419 over the Atlantic Ocean and reflecting on the unexpected moments that God provided in the past 13 days in the Holy Land. I am constantly in awe of His prolific moments in time that unfold and reflect His majesty to remind me of His abiding presence. In a previous article entitled “Suddenly God” from November 2007, I openly acknowledged my failure to see many of these precious instances that He was giving me as points of encouragement and blessing. To not share the gifts given during this past trip would be negligent on my part to remind all of us to look for those “suddenly God” moments that can keep us pressing forward in the fullness of life.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the generally accepted place of the crucifixion and burial of Christ, was packed with pilgrims and we debated about entering into the press of humanity seeking to experience some sense of His presence. So many enter the hallowed stone edifice that shelters the mount of Golgotha and the loaned tomb of Joseph of Arimathea seeking to, in a way, “force” God to react to their presence with His own. But God cannot be tempted, tested or tried by human beings to force Him to move in ways other than His own. The result is that that mass of humanity may leave the site with a sense of a lack of fulfillment rather than a valid experience of the hand of the One who cares for us, His children.
Often the problem is as simple as misunderstanding that we do not pass through places but must allow places to pass through us as someone taught us years ago. We have to enter a holy site, or a place of any kind, with an expectation that God may move to touch us or He may not. It’s about being open to the possibilities.
As we stood in the courtyard of the church, we decided seek permission to go through two of the side chapels, up many ancient stone steps, onto the rooftop where many monastic saints who serve in the building reside in stone rooms with no heat or minimal electricity in order to draw as close to God as they possibly can. As we stood upon the concrete and stone roof, high above this rooftop, on the top of the lead roof of the basilica beneath, stands a most unique crucifix.
This crucifix has three glass orbs on it – one at the very top of the cross and one each at the end of the horizontal cross members. As we admired the beautiful cross in the nearing sunset, we began to see colorful rays of light being emitted from the orbs. Brilliant colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple were flowing as a stream of perfect light before our eyes and we stood mesmerized witnessing this bountiful display. The pictures that were recorded by our digital cameras reveal tangible truth of the incredible gift that had just been given. Had we not responded to the urging to go onto the roof, the moment would have been lost and never realized. Here was God speaking to us, reminding us of His presence and unconditional love for us in a most unexpected way. The colors of the rainbow, through the prism action of the orbs, also reminded us that His love was not just for us but for all humanity.
The uniqueness of that experience was revealed later that very evening as we sat on the rooftop porch of friends who reside on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem. When we shared our “suddenly God” moment with them, they advised us as to how rare of an occurrence we had experienced as this phenomena only occurs at sunrise or sunset and only at selected times in the fall and spring. It was a moment that could have easily been missed, even though God was providing it anyway, if we had failed to act on our impulses which we now realize was the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The question becomes, are we really open to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Of course He will never call us to do something that is contrary to God’s Word, but He often calls us in unexpected moments with little or no advance preparation. How many moment shave we missed because we brushed back the leading of the Holy Spirit and lost the touch of God He desired to give us to encourage us along the daily pilgrimage of life? The Word says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s only as we do so can we hear that still small voice of the One who seeks to constantly pour blessings upon us.