The old spiritual sings, “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder…” but is that really how God works and calls us to respond?
We meet or hear about people all the time trying to “find God.” In the church language there is a term for such people as they are referred to as “seekers.” These are people who sense or believe that there must be something to this God stuff but haven’t quite got a handle on what it is. If we are honest, any one of us might find ourselves there sometimes. Our faith ebbs and flows – some days it may be rock solid and on another day we wonder if God is even there.
Lutheran theology actually helps us think about how we should approach such moments. Unlike the Jacob’s Ladder song that urges us to “climb,” Luther’s great insight was that God comes “down.” In other words, we don’t get our act together and work really hard so we can ascend and get closer to God. God loves us and descends to come closer to us. Lutheran spirituality is about God’s coming down and not about our trying to rise up.
This is very freeing. There is no way to get to God – God already knows that. But the freedom of this is that we then are allowed to simply give up trying. No wasted energy doing what we can’t do. Lutheran spirituality is grounded in believing that the God who comes to us is faithful – God is showing up! The key is, “Am I paying attention?”
Take time to simply watch for God. Read scripture to get clues about what God is up to and what God looks like. Perhaps read Galatians 5:22-23 (the fruits of the Spirit) and then reflect on where you have seen these fruits in the last few days. You will discover that God is near and working all the time – we sometimes struggle to notice. In the process, it may open you up to be more hopeful and receptive in ways that lift your Spirits. Because we don’t go up to God, but sometimes connecting with God can lift us up!