Yesterday we wrapped up the series, Fearless: Living Bold In Troubling Times. I wanted to share with you my favorite part of that message. It comes from Joshua 1:5.
God made a powerful promise to Joshua as he embarked on his conquest of Canaan. God said, "I will be with you." It is a promise that he makes to each of us. As I looked more closely at those amazing words I realized that God was telling me that He is close enough to help me. This is a truth the psalmist also makes incredibly clear:
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10
Here is what I said at that point in the message. The reference below to the culvert refers to a story I was telling about my childhood when my "big brother" (age 10) was stuck in a concrete culvert on the side of I-95:
“Where shall I flee from your presence?” It is a rhetorical question. He is telling me that God is present everywhere. He might as well have said, "If I get stuck in a culvert on the side of I-95, even there your right hand shall hold me.” Stuck in a culvert … stuck in traffic … stuck in a bad relationship … stuck in a bind … stuck in the blues … stuck in the hospital … stuck in the mud. It doesn't matter. Even there his right hand shall hold me--and you too!
When I came in to the office on Sunday morning that is where that portion of the sermon stopped. As I was reviewing the message, however, the Lord opened my eyes to another important truth which I added and which has become my "favorite part of the message."
Life is a roller coaster ride with thrilling heights and depressing lows. When I hit the "lows" it is not uncommon to think, "If God really loved me he would demonstrate it by getting me out of this mess."
We want freedom don't we? We want freedom from the sickness, the hospital, the financial squeeze, the depressing relationship, the difficult person, the tough assignment. I could go on and on.
Oh how we value our comfort!
God was not going to give Joshua "freedom." There are some things through which we simply have to march. For Joshua that march took him through a hostile county with menacing foes. What God did give Joshua -- and also gives to us -- is His presence.
God is present with me on this roller coaster ride. That is a powerful and comforting thought especially in my deepest lows, those times when circumstances make me think God has abandoned me. But he has not abandoned me. On the contrary, knowing that he is allowing my current predicament in life I can expect to discover Him in it!
A prayer for Monday morning -- and every morning: Oh LORD, thanks that your presence and power is every bit as real for me as it was for Joshua. Please help me to see you afresh in my tough times. Give me the grace to trust you when I don't see you. Thank you for being present in every predicament I face.