His Presence Alone

This will be a short post, written in an attempt to capture something that I learned yesterday. It is inspired by the message given at MNU’s 2017 faculty convocation.

In Exodus 33, Moses meets with God in the form of a pillar of cloud in the tabernacle. Verse 11 says that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Moses asks God to bring up his people, the Israelites (who are still wandering),  and to show them His way. The Lord responds, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

This is not God saying that He will bring His people out of wandering, or show them the way. It is simply Him saying that He will be with them through whatever is to come, and that His Presence will bring them rest. I think this is profound. How many times in my own life have I asked God to rescue me from my trials? To lead me to the right path, so that I know I am going where He wants me to go? And, more times than not, He does not answer as I expect – but He does always answer, just in similar fashion to how he answered Moses. Regardless of what happens in our lives, no matter what trials and temptations we go through, no matter how much we wander in the wilderness without knowing the way… He is always with us, His Church, in the form of the Holy Spirit. He will always be with us, and so we can always have rest.

Is this enough? This doesn’t mean that everything will happen as we wish it would. This doesn’t mean that the path will always be clear to us. This doesn’t even mean that our wandering will cease. But, it does mean that we are never alone – and it means that God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, our Father and Savior is always with us. And thus, we can have constant, true, unshakable peace and rest in Him.

Going back to Exodus 33 – how does Moses respond? He says simply: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.

This line is striking to me. Of course, Moses wants with all his heart for the Israelites to be brought out of their wandering. He wants to know the way God has for them. But when Moses asks God for this, and His response (while significant) is not perhaps what Moses wants to hear, he responds that if God is not with them, then there is no point in being brought up out of the wilderness at all. It is His presence with them that matters, and that is ALL that matters. Moses recognizes and understands this – I want to understand this, too. Trials may befall us, and we may wander without knowing the way – but through everything, it is only His presence with us that matters. God’s presence is ALL that matters. The Israelites need God, and nothing else. God alone is infinitely better than having everything else without Him.

How would our lives look if we realized this truth daily? What if we prayed: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us happiness, or wealth, or success. If Your Presence does not go with us, do not fulfill our callings or our dreams. If Your Presence does not go with us, do not rescue us from hard times or show us the way you’d have for us. Because You are ALL that matters, and You alone. If You are with us, we have everything – and if You are not with us, then we have nothing.”

After Moses responds, the Lord says: “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.

Moses understood that God’s presence with them was all that mattered – and in turn, the Lord chose to give Moses what he asked for anyway. This doesn’t mean that He will always give us what we ask for if we recognize that He is all we need – but it does mean that He sees our hearts, and that He will always respond in perfect grace and love. I need to constantly remind myself that He is all that matters, and that if I simply embrace this truth, everything else will follow. He desires the best for me, and He has a plan for me – but the way to come into that plan is to let it go, and to simply follow Him and embrace this one simple truth:

His presence alone is enough.

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