Tuesday, March 18, 2008

brushed by the Presence of God

The Hebrew word for the Spirit of God that hovered over the waters, that breathed life into dirt, goldfish and me, is Kabod. The word is more of a feeling, a weightiness, a presence....like still summer air, your breath inside a scarf...like wet clothes clinging to your body after a getting caught in a rain. Kabod envelops you, not just covers you. It's closer than your own breath. "Anyone who has been brushed by the Divine Kabod cannot help but adore God" wrote Peter VanBreeman. You know what he means if you've ever been close to it.
But have you ever understood that this is our call as followers of Jesus? We're to be the presence of the Lover of Souls in a land looking for someone to dance with. We're empowered by the indwelling Spirit who created the broken to go to them and shine like Hope so bright that shadows scream and run for cover. I had a neighbor, Emmanuel, who had been helped to emigrate to America by a local synagogue back in the late 90's. My dog would hang out with him in the afternoon taking naps with him and eating po-ta-to-chips. I taught him English and he taught me how to garden "Russian peasant style" using whatever you found. One afternoon we were behind our apartment building, pulling weeds and tying cucumber vines to pieces of pipe and broken hockey sticks when I almost audibly heard God ask me to talk to Him about His son Jesus. "Emmanuel" I asked "have you ever heard of Jesus". "Who? " he replied. "Jesus" I said, "the prophet you might have heard of in synagogue." "No, I have never heard of Him....oh...wait wait, Jesu Christo...yes I have heard the name but know nothing about him." Turns out that he had been to synagogue when he was a little kid (he was almost 80) and didn't know the story of God at all. So I told him of Jesus, the Nazarene, and of God and His love and power. I told my friend that this Jesus wanted to have a friendship like we had, spending time on walks, and that He had suffered greatly, even to death to give him the gift of never-ending life. After some time, my friend looked at me and asked "what does a kind God like that want with a useless old man like me?" "Love, my friend. Only your love."
I moved away from that building, but I still think of my friend often. I pray that we'll have a seat at The Feast together..maybe eating po-ta-to-chips. That would be great. I don't know what he ever did do with the love story. But I know he brushed Kabod...before I left he gave me the watch he brought with him from Russia.