Thursday, February 15, 2007

Even Cleveland

Two days ago, I got another Ortberg book. I am fully aware that I have gone On and On and On about that first book, until someone is tuning me out. I get it. But Tuesday, I posted the info about the Helix Nebula, and it just rocked my world. We had bible study Tuesday night at the FBC, and I headed home to find my book in the mail. And I promptly started reading.

Now, God has been speaking to me through variety of people and mediums lately. And I have loved every moment. I don't pray for these little moments; they just happen. I can't explain the intensity of them lately, but I am thankful and give Praise to Him who deserves it.

But, I had another surprise. :)

I was minding my own business, reading this book Tuesday night, and suddenly I ran across this passage: "One night Jacob was running away from Esau, who was trying to kill him because Jacob had cheated him and deceived their father. Jacob stopped for the night at "a certain place". That's a Hebrew way of saying no place in particular. CLEVELAND, MAYBE."

I literally sat up in the bed and started laughing. Are you kidding???? **For anyone who may be particularly unaware, please note on my profile where I live. I realize that the author is probably referring to Cleveland, Ohio, but because of his ambiguity and lack of aforementioned state, I am free to make any assumption necessary.

"Cleveland, maybe."

Holy cow. Thinking this might have just been a fluke, I tried again to regain my composure and begin reading again. And then it happened, AGAIN. "God is still in the business of coming down to earth: to this cubicle, this email, this room, this house, this job, this hospital room, this car, this bed, this vacation. Any place can become Bethel, the House of God. CLEVELAND, MAYBE."

At this point, I am so excited that I do not know what to do with myself. Also, for interesting reference, the title of the book is (brace yourself... it's funny) God is closer than you think. Someone suddenly thinks I'm crazy. You are completely entitled to your opinion.

I decided to put the book down and take off into dreamland after that. Again last night, I picked up the book, inconspicuously no doubt, to begin reading. God, ever the divine comedian, did it a third time. "The expectation of Jesus was that this unseen river of life will flow again: in an office in San Francisco, a home in the suburbs of Atlanta, at a desk in a classroom in Chicago. It can happen for an attendant working at a gas station in Detroit. It can happen for plumbers and stockbrokers and homemakers and retired folks. It can happen for a CEO or a seventh grader. IT CAN HAPPEN IN CLEVELAND."

Now three times... well, three is a holy number. Get that through your head. The trinity has 3 parts. Peter denied Jesus three times. The rooster cried three times. This book that I am reading, IN CLEVELAND, said Cleveland three times, it is no coincidence. There is some sense that I really don't know what it means. A man, miles away from here, happened to mention a city that I call home inconsequentially in his book. Accident? I think not. I don't think anybody in Cleveland, Ohio would either.

I rambled all that to say... God really is closer than we think. When we seek Him, we find Him in the strangest places. In a scripture written on the bathroom stall at a junior high school, in the face of a fast-food employee who loves him undauntedly, in an airplane 30,000 feet in the air, and for me, today, in the pages of a book.

He is so jealous for our time and attention... He really is closer than we think.

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