Monday, February 20, 2017

God's Presence

In the last few weeks, God's gracious presence has been so certain.  His Words have whispered peace to my heart.  I am thankful, because it could be different.  He could be silent.  It wouldn't change who He is or His power in the situation, but it would make this thing feel so much more difficult.  The other day I wondered if there would be a time during this journey when His presence would not be so obvious.  With that thought came a reminder of a gift God provided earlier this summer.

This past summer before the start of girl's camp, I was reading in Exodus 33 and 34.  The story is that Israel has again sinned and God says He will take them to the Promised Land, but He will not travel with them.  The people mourn and repent and then Moses and God have an interesting exchange in Exodus 33:12 through chapter 34.  Moses says to God, "You have said I am special to you.  You say I know you by name.  You say you look favorably on me.  If this is the case, then let me understand you more fully and enjoy your favor.  Remember that this nation is your very own people."  

God responds, "Moses, I will personally go with you.  I will give you rest.  Everything will be fine for you."  (Those words could be a whole other post!)

But Moses isn't resting in that yet, he says, "If you don't personally go with us, then don't ask us to leave this place.  How will we be your people if you are not with us?"

God says, "I will do what you have asked, Moses.  I will go with you, for I do look favorably on you, and I know you by name."  (Interesting here it is God who knows us by name, and not that we know God by name!)

So Moses boldly asks, "God show me your glorious presence." 

Now I need to break the Biblical story here, to share that when I was reading this the morning during pre-camp, I was hungry to see God's glorious presence.  I made those words my own heart's cry.

In the Biblical narrative God tells Moses He will make His goodness pass before Moses and He will call out His name, Yahweh before Him.  He warns Moses that he can't look directly on His face, but invites him to stand near Him on a rock.  (That invitation gives me goosebumps!)  God tells Moses that His glorious presence will pass by and God will cover Him with his hand while He is passing by, but that He will remove His hand so that Moses can see Him from behind.

Sure enough, God does this after He gave Moses a second, unbroken copy of Ten Commandments.  The Lord comes down in a cloud, stands with Moses and calls out his own name.  He calls out, "Yahweh!  The Lord!  The God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.  I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.  I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.  But I do not excuse the guilty.  I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;  the entire family is affected- even children in the third and fourth generation."  

And Moses response is to immediately fall on the ground and worship.  He asks God again to go with them, to forgive their sin, and to claim them as his own special possession.

It's a pretty intense passage that speaks so clearly of the awe of God's presence.  I love that God doesn't just show His back to Moses, but that He reveals His name and character when He passes by.  He is YAHWEH.  The LORD.  He is the God of compassion and mercy.  He is slow to anger.  He is filled with love and faithfulness.  He lavishes unfailing love.  He forgives.  He is just.  What a treasure to know God like this!

That day God had a surprise for me though.  See I asked Him to show me His glorious presence.  I wanted a little taste of what Moses experienced.  My quiet time ended and as I headed out for the day's activities I told God I would be looking to see Him.  Those of us at pre-camp later gathered with a local church to share in Sunday Morning Worship.  As the worship time began, the leader started to read a passage to us.  My eyes filled with tears as I heard the very same words I read that morning in Exodus.  I was undone.  It wasn't just a coincidence to me.  It was such a clear time of God speaking to my heart and letting me know that the God of the universe, the God of gods and Lord of Lords was very aware of me and was inviting me to know Him.  His presence was there with me.

So why do I share all of this?  Because maybe there will be a day when I will not be so sure of His presence, and I want to remember what is true.  Whether I feel His presence or not He is who He says He is.  Maybe you will have a day where you will question, "Where is God's presence?"  The truth we both need to remember is God is who He says He is. 
He is:
YAHWEH.  The LORD.  He is the God of compassion and mercy.  He is slow to anger.  He is filled with love and faithfulness.  He lavishes unfailing love.  He forgives.  He is just.  And if I can add this promise made later through His Son to those who believe in Him:


Stacy said...

Thank you for sharing this.
I am so grateful that you heard our Lord later on in the day. What a true gift!
Praying that you continue to hearand seek HIM.

Ray Thomas said...

I just finished reading your Stones of Remembrance blog post and was reminded of my own introduction to the Haven Quartet. It came in 1990 when I purchased a cassette tape by them. My favorite song on it was He's A Rock. I recommend it highly. I love the arrangement and the words of the writer speak to my heart for you.
My prayers are with you and for you during this "time of storm" (from the song). Your writing so impresses me with who you have become since we knew each other in PA at C&T Church. May His blessing rest upon you daily and may He heal your body completely as He has healed your soul is my prayer for you.

MaineMillers said...

Stacy, thanks for your comment. It was a great encouragement then. And now I am grateful even more so for the reminder!

MaineMillers said...

Ray, thanks for your kind words. I don't remember that particular song. I will have to look it up. Finding that songs once again seem to hit the deep places. Love how God made that avenue for Him to speak to us and us to speak back to him. Thanks for praying. Looking for God to continue to mold and shape me and find hope that this process will be used for that! Love your final line, because it is the message I so want people to hear when they talk with me. I want them to know the life that He is offering to them!