Experiencing God in the Valley

Jul 31st 2012

In the last few weeks, actually the last few months…going on a year, the question has been asked many times, “What are we going to do now?”  Perhaps the question comes from exasperation, or even a bit of desperation.  Perhaps the question comes simply from people who want to be involved, want to do something to make some thing better.  From the events last November to the events of the last few weeks, Happy Valley has gone from one “What are we going to do now?” question to the next.  To be honest I’m not even sure this will be the last time we ask that question.  

God has shaped me to think strategically, so I love that question…and as a leader in and lover of our valley, I want to tell you there is a plan.  But I think our plans might be the last thing we need at the moment.  In the last year if I’ve heard Pastor McKenzie — at Unity Church — quote 2 Chronicles 20:12 once, I’ve heard him quote it hundreds of times.  It makes it’s way into almost every prayer I’ve heard him pray.  I think it’s a good place for us to start as we ask the question, “What do we do now?”

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehosaphat is the King of Judah.  He was a good King who loved God,  In fact he was described as a man who sought God with all his heart, but he was not a perfect King.  In fact some of his mistakes led them to the place where they were quite vulnerable to a great army that had come against them.  2 Chronicles 20:12 is part of King J’s prayer to God in the face of this great battle.

12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. ”

We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you.  Our eyes are on you.  On you.

Where we place our eyes has an amazing way of shaping what we do and where we go…and even who we are…

As we ask the question — “What do we do now?” — we must have in mind an answer to questions like, “Where do we want to go?” and “Who do we want to become?”  It is tempting to think that our primary challenge is the restoration of life as we knew it, PSU as we knew it, football Saturdays as we knew them, happy as we knew it..etc  But what if our primary challenge is to experience God in the valley?

If that’s the case then we have to start with the humility of crying out to God in our ignorance.  If the goal is to fix Happy Valley and restore the reputation of Penn State…we can come up with that plan on our own… a number of great organizations in the valley are working on exactly that — and by the way I think that’s great — but the people of God have a prior calling.  We want to encounter God in our valley.  We want our community to experience the love and the power and the grace and the life of God.  That’s a goal that is far too big for us…one that should call us to cry out in our humility.

God we can’t do this on our own.  We don’t know what to do.  But our eyes are on you.

The first teaching series this fall at Calvary will be titled Experiencing God.  It’s based on a study by Henry Blackaby.  For those who have been around Calvary for more than a decade, it will be like a blast from the past.  This study has helped to shape our church without walls.  In the study we will talk about seven realities of experiencing God — not seven steps, not a formula, but a description of the realities of experiencing God.

The first reality is this: God is always at work around us.

In other words, he hasn’t left the valley.  He didn’t give up and go away.  He isn’t scared by sin or sanctions.  He isn’t confused by the Freeh Report.  He knows the beginning from the end.  Whenever we meet him, he is always on the way back from where we are headed.    He opposes the proud but he is ready in an instant to give mercy and grace to the humble.   He loves our region, but he wants our hearts.  He wants our eyes on him.

God is always at work around us.  Right now, if he is at work in our region, the most important question we can ask is not, “What do we do now?”  but “What is God doing now?”

The last few weeks, actually the last few months for Lynn and I have contained some of our most difficult moments…but in all of our wrestling with decisions and with God, the one thing I know is that God has been drawing our eyes to him.  I invite you to look in the same direction.  Over the course of the next few days, I will share a few more thoughts connected to the seven realities of experiencing God in our valley, but this is where it starts.  Our eyes are on you God.