The recent topic has been friendship based upon a Celtic Vow of Friendship. In the last column we began looking at “I bring an unprotected heart to our meeting place.” We examined an unprotected heart. Today, let us think about “our meeting place,” and those meeting places as divinely ordained and inspired.
“[Abraham] lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth.”Genesis 18:2
In the scripture today the LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. Abraham recognized a holy encounter was taking place and responded appropriately by running to the meeting place and bowing to our Lord. Of this encounter, Charles Spurgeon wrote: “God graciously visits those in whom he has first raised the expectation of him, and manifests himself to those that wait for him.” Abraham might have been awaiting the opportunity to do good to any stranger that came by, not having hotels or inns in which they might stay. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews might well have been thinking of Abraham’s meeting place with G-d when he wrote: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2 ESV)
We can see this principle played out in Y’shuaJesus’s encounter with the apostles on the shores of Lake Kinneret (John 21:1), with disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13), and with Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3). Thus, this principle is that G-d chooses to meet us where we are, and chooses to have us meet others if we are open to Him.
Charles Spurgeon encourages us to look expectantly for opportunities. “Religion does not destroy, but improve, good manners, and teaches us to honour all men. Decent civility is a great ornament to piety. [Abraham] was very earnest and importunate for [the angel’s] stay, and took it as a great favour. It becomes those whom God has blessed with plenty to be liberal and open-hearted in their entertainments, according to their ability, and (not in compliment, but cordially) to bid their friends welcome. We should take a pleasure in showing kindness to any; for both God and man love a cheerful giver.”
We can discover another principle of meeting places in the events leading up to Elijah’s encounter with G-d on top of Mt. Horab told in 1Kings 19. Elijah’s discouragement after Jezebel’s threats propelled him to the wilderness where he wanted to die. But the Lord sent an angel to assist him and direct him. “And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’” (Kings 19:7 ESV) Once at Mt. Horab, Elijah is directed out of a hiding place, into an encounter with G-d. Thus, this principle is that G-d brings to us those He chooses to direct us to encounters with Him.
In each of these encounters, these meeting places with G-d, is the critical element of an open, unprotected heart. Abraham extended himself, looking beyond his immediate self, to entertain strangers. Elijah, fleeing to the desert wanting to die, remained open to the Lord’s guidance and assistance from an angel.
This week as the Lord allowed me to see various meeting places in scripture, He also led me to see some of the results of these meeting places. In Acts 16, Luke tells us that Paul was prevented from going to Asia, and directed to go instead to Macedonia (v 10). Luke also tells us (Acts 8) of Philip being directed into the desert where he encounters, and the Lord saves, an Ethiopian court official. Thus, another principle of meeting places is that the Kingdom of G-d is enlarged.
Are all meeting places holy and ordained? Check out the report in Judges 16 of Samson’s meetings with Delilah. This is a case in which Samson’s heart should have been greatly protected, for opening it to Delilah had grave consequences.
Oh, Lord, most merciful and holy, grant us appropriately to open our hearts to encounter You and do all You desire. Grant us the wisdom to guard our hearts appropriately, too. Grant us peace in our journey with You. Amen.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .