I was recently listening to a sermon where the preacher, Scott Chrostek of Res Downtown, asked an important question - where you experience God in your daily, ordinary life? For some of us, it is a question that we made need to put some thought into before we can answer it. For others, we may have a response in mind right away. How do you experience God in your daily life?
I think a lot of us can start to name the ways that we have seen God on the mountain tops - those places where we have deeply connected with our Savior. I’ve shared before that most of my mountain tops have taken place in nature, in the midst of God’s creation. For others they may be able to speak about how they have experienced God in the valley, when they were going through the lowest lows. How God was right there with them through the hardest things that they have ever faced in life.
But the problem with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, is sometimes we forget. We forget how God has been faithful to us in the past so it makes it hard for us to proclaim how God is with us in the present. We forget the story.
The prophet Habakkuk knows the story of his people, he trusts that God is with them in their present state of oppression and captivity, and because he knows that story and has that trust, we found him praying a bold prayer of lament in chapter 1 of this book. He cried out to God essentially asking, “how long”? How long O Lord, are things going to continue like this? How long, O Lord, until you redeem your people?
And God responded to this prayer of lament in chapter 2, essentially saying that God would take care of what the people are going through in God’s timing. Proclaiming that they have not been forgotten.
We pick up in today’s scripture, Habakkuk 3, which takes place after God has spoken, and Habakkuk is moved to present a prayer of praise. In fact, while we might call it a prayer, it can also be in the category of a Psalm or a hymn. He has had a mountain top experience where he received a word from God for his people and he could not help but address God in a prayer of praise, a combination of the thanks and wow prayer that we talked about just a few weeks ago.
It is almost as if yes, Habakkuk knew his people’s story about how God has saved them in the past, but in the midst of their very present trouble he had forgotten. So the words that God spoke about the salvation that was coming for them, deeply touched his heart. He knew, but he needed to be re-reminded.
But once he was re-reminded, it was if everything he knew in his head and his heart, his holy scriptures and his experience, came flooding back to him. Essentially saying, yes Lord, in your time reveal yourself to us again. Reveal yourself like you did before, like you did the Exodus story with pestilence and plagues, the precursors to the Exodus from Egypt, leaving behind the oppression of the Pharaoh. Show yourself, not just in grand ways like this, but in the graduor of nature as well. In the brightness of the sun. The shaking of the earth. No matter what, Lord, help me look for your coming and remember your story of salvation.
In fact, he goes on to say, that even if the trees don’t bloom, and the olive fails, he will still trust in God, even in times of trial. In other words, even if the land that bears God’s promises may fail, the word of God will not. God will save God’s people in God’s timing, but God’s intention is to bring salvation.
Sometimes we need big moments in our lives to help us re-remember our story as well. How God has brought us here. To help re-orient us towards what we, too, already know in our head, heart, experience, and Scriptures.
But what if it isn’t just the big moments that can bring us to songs of praise, but the every day moments as well. Which brings us back to that question posed by Rev. Scott Chrostek, where you experience God in your daily, ordinary life? Because if we can’t see God in the every day, then we are more prone to miss God on the mountain top and in the valley as well. If we don’t believe that God is with us every day, then we’ve missed the point of a Savior.
For so long the church has preached that Salvation is about getting into heaven, and don’t get me wrong, I’m just as excited as the next person to get there. But Salvation isn’t something that happens to us now, so that someday we can be in heaven with God. Salvation also changes us now. It changes the ways we live. The ways we think about things and respond. It changes the way we notice things around us in the world and helps us to testify to God’s faithfulness in the past and the present, so we can walk with God in the future. God’s intent isn’t to change our hearts someday. To save us someday. We worship the God who is with us right here and now. Working towards our best interest right here and now. If only we open up our eyes and hearts to see and respond.
While we have broken up the book of Habakkuk into three separate weeks, it is all part of one story. A story that begins and ends with the people’s relationship to God. Not just a right relationship when things are going really, really well or are really, really troubling, but a sustained relationship with God in the muck and Meir and manontney of the every day. Which once agains echoes that deeply important question - where do you experience God in your daily life? How do you experience God in your daily life? And what do you do with that?
Because our past experiences with God can inform our present relationship with God. How many folks do you know who became disappointed when God did not respond to a prayer or a need in their life in a particular way so they decided that God is no longer trustworthy - walking away from the faith? And how many people do you know who went through the worst thing imaginable but still proclaim “I made it through because my God is able.” What we have grounded our relationship with God on in the past informs the present. If we have trusted God in the past, we are more apt to have confidence in God in the present. And if we haven’t trusted God before, then it may be harder for us to trust God now.
When God speaks to Habakkuk he reminds the proper the God is able. That God is about the work of Salvation in the lives of the chosen people. The prophet is told that God is able to be trusted even in the midst of conflict, because that story of who God has been in the past for the people, that Exodus story that brought them to the Promise Land, is not just a story of the past - it speaks to what is coming in the present and the future.
Friends, how about us? Do we trust God in the every day-ness? Do we proclaim that our God is able, not just in the big things, but in the ordinary things of life? Do we have enough confidence in the salvation that God brings us to say that Salvation changes hearts and lives right here today? Can we proclaim with confidence that our God is the God of Salvation? Amen.