I Could Have Had a V8

I Could Have Had a V8

I Could Have Had A V8


Thomas K. Chadwick

Providence Church 31 August 2014

Genesis 28:10-16 Exodus 3:1-5

Ever been preoccupied? So much that you missed something important, like getting your camera adjustments just right, and missing the first steps of your child or grandchild. I know I find myself more and more wrapped up with minutiae and missing some really important things in my life. We all do that, we’re so busy, we rationalize that we can’t do everything, be everywhere, pay attention to all that is stimulating us.

So I’d like all of you to just relax today, sit back in your pew and just think on one thing, think about God, and try to find a quiet space in your mind, uncluttered by the concerns of tomorrow. We get so busy even with our church responsibilities that we might actually be neglecting God himself. Someone once said it’s important for us to do God’s work, but not God’s job. So relax, awareness is a journey, not a destination. Awareness is a process.

Maybe you take time to be with God when you go to bed at night, and drift off to sleep contemplating His peace and security. Maybe you pray when you are jogging, take time to be holy!

I remember once when I was onboard ship, I’d stayed up all night to be with the mid-watch crew and I was just hitting my rack around 6 a.m. when the Commanding Officer of the ship called my stateroom and asked for my immediate presence up on the bridge. I rushed back into my uniform and made my way, groggy-eyed, up to the bridge. The skipper was in his chair and said to me, “What a beautiful sun-rise, so peaceful, so pristine, I just thought you’d want to see it.” For him it was a transcendent moment, a moment when he felt God’s presence.

When I was a little child my parents gave me a puzzle of the states, you know, a flat wood board into which small pieces, different colors, each the shape of a different U.S. state, fit into a border. A few years later, when I was about 10, I was introduced to a contour map of America and found a very different geography indeed, now I started at the east coast with a flat plain, which gave way to a little bump, the Appalachian Mountains, then another larger flat space, the great plains, until I encountered a large bump, a big rise, the Rocky Mountains, then just as quickly, back down to the Pacific Ocean.

I had a wholly different view of the map, it has its ups and downs, and so it is with life. Our lives are a series of consolation and desolation. We feel the strong presence of God in our lives, giving us consolation and quick response to prayer, and at other times, we feel in a wilderness, as Jesus spent 40 days in a desert, a sense of abandonment, and we wonder, ‘where is God?’ ‘Has He forgotten me?’ As we mature, our faith matures, we see a more complex and inestimable God.

The English schoolboy was quoted by the great theologian, Harry Emerson Fosdick, “How come vitamins are found in spinach and not in ice cream, . . where they belong?” We so want to find God where he belongs, not necessarily where He is looking for us.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the old story of the drunkard who has lot his keys and begins searching for them under the streetlight on the opposite curb. “Why are you looking for them over here? His friend asks. “Because the light is better over here.” We have to look for God where he may be found, now where we necessarily find it convenient to look for him.

We might notice about ourselves something akin to the situation of the famed composer, Beethoven, who, as he aged, was going progressively deaf, deaf even to his own compositions. WE can go progressively deaf to the call of God if we do not listen, if we only dance to the tunes we select and want played. “Search me, Of God, and know my heart.”

Jacob spent a night asleep and met God. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth which reached up to Heaven, and the Lord stood at the head of it. . . . “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, I will not leave you until I have done for you that which I have spoken.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and declared, “Surely the Lord was in this place, and I did not know it! How awesome is this place.”

Jacob found God where he’d least expected to find Him. What a remarkable and yet human indictment it is: “God was in this place, AND I DID NOT KNOW IT”. I just wasn’t paying attention. We sometimes miss God when he is being most obvious to us, we are struggling to be where we want to be, too wrapped up in self, and oblivious to where He wants us to be.

‘What was I thinking? I was too pre-occupied, it was so much simpler than I was making it. (Bop on head) I could have had a V8, if I’d just been thinking.

Exodus 3 tells of Moses experiencing God. It is the story of a miracle, the burning bush. Not perhaps as great a miracle as Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, a minor miracle perhaps, but tailor-made for Moses. Here is Moses, out minding the flocks of this father-in-law, Jethro, and while chasing some sheep up a hillside, he sees this burning bush, the scripture says, “And lo, the bush was burning, yet was not consumed.”

I have a fireplace in my home and I have built many a winter fire, usually using those fire-starters that are sold in hardware stores, the lazy man’s way of starting a fire. Once, I ran out of these starters and so used some kindling, small pieces of wood I’d chopped up months before. I put them in the grate and lit some newspaper go get them going. But I noticed something as I gazed into the grate. I realized that the kindling didn’t immediately ignite, in fact, it took a good 20-30 seconds before the smallest kindling caught from the newspaper. I stared at a particular piece to see just how long it would be before it caught fire, and I stared, and stared.

It would be one thing if the scriptures simply said that Moses saw a burning bush, but it actually says, “and it was not consumed,” which means to me that Moses, to know that it was not consumed, had to be paying particular attention else he would not have noticed that it was not consumed by the fire. MOSES WAS PAYING ATTENTION, LOOKING CAREFULLY. His was not a glance, but a probing gaze. God, probably looking around for just the right guy to go back to Egypt to lead his people out of bondage found in Moses someone who would pay attention . . . “I can use this man, he pays attention!” . . . A stutterer, shy, already safe himself, out of Egypt, living the life of a shepherd, a married man now, probably could have had NO thought further from that of God’s plan, than this Moses. He was surely as consumed with his own life as any man, but God found him, because Moses paid attention. Perhaps you could say, they found each other.

We hear what we’re listening for, we see what we’re looking for. A mother hears a baby’s cry late at night because she is attuned to listen for just that very cry, and so, she does hear it.

Any bush can be The Burning Bush if we are paying attention. We have to ‘be there’. Woody Allen once said, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem that begins, “Earth’s crammed with Heaven and every common bush aflame with God. Only he who has eyes to see takes off his shoes, the rest sit around and pick blackberries.”

You have to ‘be there,’ eyes and ears, and heart and mind, open, attuned. Heart panting in anticipation. The waiter or waitress waits upon the customer, standing quietly by while the menu is scanned, asking politely if one is ready to order, or saying, “Would you like a little more time to study the menu?, I can come back.” The waiter waits patiently for the diner to finish his table conversation and the waits for the signal for the check to be brought. To ‘wait for’ and ‘wait upon’ . . . it’s a blending of two meanings in one action.

I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time, I was pretty pre-occupied, but ‘God was in this place, and I didn’t know it. Jesus met his disciples, after his resurrection, cooking breakfast for them on the beach. They weren’t looking for him there as they’d returned to their fishing trade, but Peter, seeing him, cried, ‘It is the Lord!” and jumped into the water to come to Jesus. Sometimes God is in our most common, ordinary places, and we don’t see him. God was surely in this place, and I didn’t even know it!”

God was in this place, and I didn’t even know it! The human lament for those too self-consumed, too wrapped up in the quest, too busy, too deluded. Did you get your vitamins today, it was easy, “I could have had a V8!”

Seek the Lord where he may be found, wherever He may be found. How?? Simply be open to Him, listen . . . listen for his knocking. And be aware, awake, and alive to all the possibilities He has for you. A man craved classical music but was so frustrated that his radio only played Rock and Roll, until one day, he put on his glasses and noticed a little button on his car radio that said AM/FM. He pushed it, and was greeted by FM stations galore playing the music he craved. Be patient, and be kind, and have an open heart, and pay attention.

Really, there are angels all around us, God is radiating all around us, even without the blessing of sight, Helen Keller saw the good in many a man and woman. The blind Fanny Crosby could write,

“Perfect submission, all is at rest.

I, in my savior, am happy and blessed.

Watching, and waiting, looking above,

Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

“Open my Eyes, that I may see. . . “

Too pre-occupied with the obvious, the mundane, but something wonderful happens, a good deed is done, a courtesy is shown, a kind word is spoken, a re-assurance and an applause for someone else is offered. God was in this place, and I didn’t even know it!! / . . Do we only do good deeds, act carefully, patiently, charitably, when we think God is watching? , . . . . my friends, I have news for us all . . . God is ALWAYS watching!

So, these little acts, routine graces, these are the nuggets that nourish the soul, that provide nutrition to the Spirit of man, that make our ‘being’ (human beings) worth being. One of the greatest lines in all of scripture, Jacob cries the great human lament, had I only been paying attention, God was in this place, but I didn’t know it!

Wake up, pay attention. It’s easy for your soul to get it’s nourishment, your vitamins, “I could have had a V8.”