The new school year is right around the corner! As you make those last minute runs to target, figure out your move-in strategy, and frantically pull things together for recruitment, how are you feeling about this year? Excited to see your friends? Sad that it's your senior year? Afraid about making some key decisions about your major and career? Sometimes we're so focused on the stuff we have to get done that we forget where we are, who we are, and where we're headed.
Today's reflection is about location, location, location. In today's mobile society we attach less significance to physical places. Notice your surroundings right now. What do you see, hear, smell and feel? Take a minute to become aware of God's presence in this space.
Leading up to this story in Genesis, God has slowly been unfolding his promise to multiply Abraham's descendants to be a blessing to the whole world. But first, they need an actual place to put down roots. Abraham's grandson Jacob one of those guys who's always on the move - trying to get ahead, moving from one opportunity to the next, never quite settling in one spot.
Genesis 28:11-17 11
When [Jacob] reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.
Question to Consider
-- What do you notice about the things God says to Jacob in the dream? What do you think God is trying to communicate to Jacob? (v.12-15)
-- Jacob is pretty type A and tends to move quickly from one thing to the next. Why might God be saying these things to Jacob in particular?
-- In what ways do you identify with Jacob as someone who's always running from one thing to the next? What makes it difficult to slow down and be aware of God's presence in your life?
-- What are the spaces or communities on your campus where it seems like God is not really present?
-- What are some unexpected places or communities on campus where you have seen God at work? Maybe in your fraternity or sorority, or your dorm?
God shows up in places we don't expect - not just in our hearts and minds in a spiritual sense, but in physical places where we live, hang out, work and sleep. What if God wants to show up and surprise you with his presence, so that you would also say - "God is definitely at work here, I just wasn't able to see it before!"?
Think about the places where it seems like God isn't very present right now. Maybe it's your fraternity or sorority, your pledge class, or among your closest friends on campus. Maybe it's your academic department or a club you lead. Maybe it's the bar or house where everyone parties. What would it look like for you to settle in to these places this school year and wait for God to show up?
As you begin the school year, pray regularly- asking God to help you slow down and look for the places he's at work that you haven't noticed yet.
Here are a few ideas to try out:
-- Journal about where you've seen God at work in your fraternity/sorority during the time you've been a member, or even before you joined.
-- Take 10 mins out of your day to just sit, be quiet, and ask God where he has been present in your life or in the lives of those you've encountered today.
-- Pray through a list of your chapter members, a composite, or walk through your chapter house (if you have one), asking God to show you where he's at work in people's lives.
-- When you get back to school, take a prayer walk around campus, just praying silently as you walk by different buildings, departments, hang out spots, etc.