Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, June 7, 2013

Preparing to Meet God . . . Always and Everywhere

Sometimes, I see a message from God written out in big letters across the sky, and other times it comes as a gentle nudge. This time, it came in large print on a billboard along the highway. “Prepare to meet God,” the sign said.

It sounded ominous, threatening, and not a bit invitational. I cringed a bit as I drove past, and wanted to duck. Part of it was embarrassment, I suppose, and the fleeting thankfulness that I didn’t have any “God-stickers” on the bumper of my car that would link me to the billboard.

But there was another part of me that realized the person or group behind these words actually thought they were doing the community a service, and that by their act of buying this space on the billboard – on God’s behalf, no doubt – they, too, were preparing themselves to meet God.

For several miles, I thought about my internal reaction to the billboard. The words play on the theme of God as “Judge.” But in this sense, God is little more than a Scorekeeper or an Eternal Accountant who tallies a ledger. I acknowledged to myself a different understanding of God. I tend to experience God as endlessly generous, and in this generosity God broadcasts mercy, peace, and love into the world . . . whether I acknowledge and receive that generosity or not.

Also, as I drove on, I realized that “prepare to meet God” implies some future meeting, some moment – after death? – when we stand in front of God and “give an account.” But it totally misses the day-by-day, moment-by-moment meeting with God that is possible in every nano-second of our lives.

Every moment is a moment of meeting God. Every place is a place of meeting God.

But our language betrays us sometimes. We say, “God was really present there,” or “God showed up in this,” or “God is still working (or not working) in this situation.” I understand the sentiment, but actually God is always there, always present, always at work. God does not merely show up at the end of life for accounting time, nor does God make periodic appearances in our world in those rare moments when our spine tingles. God is . . . always (in time) and everywhere (in place).

So to the person – or the billboard – that says to me, “Prepare to meet God,” I would say, “I have met God . . . and you have, too, whether you know it or not. In every moment and in every place, God is there, endlessly generous toward you, me, and everything God has made. Don’t miss out on life because you are waiting for death to have that meeting!”

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