13 Oct A Profound Promise
Have you ever been overwhelmed by a task before you? Have you ever felt certain you lacked the skills to do the job you’ve been given? Have you ever left a role you felt capable of for an unknown and uncomfortable future? Have you ever doubted yourself, perhaps for good reason? Have you ever felt ill-equipped or unprepared, leading you to try to get out of doing something?
These are questions I encountered in a Bible study lesson I was studying earlier in the week. The questions were asked in the context of the stories of Moses and Gideon, two “bigger than life” Biblical characters. Both men were called by God to deliver the Hebrews—from Egyptian slavery in Moses’ case, and from Midianite oppression in Gideon’s. Both men reacted similarly, knowing they were inadequate for the tasks being asked of them. Moses’ response was, “Who, me? Who am I?” “How can I?” was Gideon’s reaction.
What God said to both men is fascinating—and instructive. “I will be with you,” was God’s reply first to Moses, and later, to Gideon. God was not dismissive of the men’s concerns or fears. Nor did God minimize the complexity or risk of what was being asked of them. There was not even a whiff of, “oh, it won’t be so bad; it’s not really that hard.” Instead, God answered their worries with a simple but profound promise: “I will be with you.”
It’s a phrase that is so often spoken and heard in church that if we’re not careful, it can simply become part of the background, the ambient noise that fills time and space on a Sunday morning. Sometimes we need to stop and really contemplate what God is saying, that the God of the universe, the God whose uncontainable love spilled out into creation, whose Spirit daily animates all our lives, the God who thought up music and molecules, brains and butter, oxygen and ostriches, pulsars and peonies—that God promises to be with us always. To walk with us, to speak to us, to lead us, to care about us, love us and forgive us. That, my friends, is a mind-blowing mystery that we can plumb all our days and never come close to understanding. Yet, we can live the truth of it today, right now.
I have been potently aware of God’s presence recently in events and circumstances as disparate as I’ve ever experienced. There was the glorious day of worship and celebration as we dedicated our new organ and then filled the church hall for lunch—a day that exceeded even my own vivid imagination and extravagant hopes. God was surely with us. There is the news that a dear family friend, just 30 years old, is dealing with a brain tumor that has returned far sooner and bigger than expected. God is with us. I just returned from a vacation overseas that was filled with history, early Christian relics, and breathtaking scenery. God is with us and has been with us for millennia. My 100-year old grandmother is in the hospital with pneumonia and another family friend is facing serious difficulty in a war zone. God is with us.
Whether we feel overwhelmed with the challenges of parenting or the abyss of grief, we are not alone. When we are faced with difficult decisions—which medical treatment to choose, whether to uproot our family for a new job opportunity, or how to care for an aging parent—we are not alone. When relationships are fractured, or worry is keeping us up at night, or we’re struggling to forgive, we are not alone. When we’re dancing with delight or bursting with gratitude, we’re not alone then, either.
God is with us. I invite you to take a few moments today to let that truth sink in because when you do, it changes you which changes how you see and experience your life.
Yours for the Kingdom,