I love reading through the Book of Exodus.
I truly believe it is one of the sweetest and most hopeful stories in the entire Bible.
Each time I read through it, I always see another level that just fills my heart with the love God has for us.
What struck me recently was how tangibly present God was during the entire redemption process of the Israelite nation.
Remember, it all started with God getting Moses’ attention by showing up in a burning bush. Once Moses recovered from the initial shock of encountering God Himself, he realized God wanted to use him for something really big…bringing God’s people out of captivity and into their Promised Land.
Moses’ response to God’s plan is recorded in Exodus 3:11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Honestly, how many of us would have responded in the exact same way! Moses didn’t believe he was qualified, and even reminded God at one point he wasn’t even a good speaker.
But the words of the Lord found in Exodus 3:12 gave Moses all he needed to fulfill his purpose.
God’s response to all of Moses’ questions and insecurities was just five words:
“I will be with you.”
God didn’t tell Moses He was rising up an army for him.
God didn’t give Moses the full, detailed plan all at once.
God didn’t waver in His choice for the man to do the job.
God knew His presence would be enough for Moses.
It was the mighty hand of God that brought the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt.
As the Exodus story progressed, God continued to make His presence known during their journey.
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way
and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by
day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night
left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22 NIV)
How amazing that must have been to see – the presence of the Lord right there in front of you day and night!
Remember, God was in the process of transforming this group of people, fresh from the bonds of slavery, into His chosen people once again.
As their history reveals, this would be no easy task.
They bumbled, stumbled and grumbled their way around the wilderness for 40 years. But through it all, God stayed faithful to them, and tangibly ever present among them.
The theme of God’s presence among believers is rich throughout His entire plan of redemption for mankind. God always has a deep desire to be in fellowship with His creation and He proves this by His willingness to be present with us.
A picture of this is seen in the brief glimpse of the relationship between God and Adam and Eve before the fall in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:8 reminds us that God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden “in the cool of the day.”
Can you imagine that! Strolling with God in a beautiful garden in the cool of the day!
As the redemption story progressed, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, physically dwelt among us, and ushered in the Kingdom of God to earth. How amazing is it to know that our God humbled Himself and lived as a human because He wanted to fellowship with us.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, He made sure His disciples understood that God would always be with them. The Gospel of John records Jesus’ words as He promised, “I will not leave you as orphans”. The Holy Spirit was promised to dwell within all believers acting as an advocate and comforter.
All of this shows God’s immense, unconditional and everlasting love for us. He enjoys us and wants to be welcome in our lives. He is available!
Think about this…the Creator of the entire universe wants a relationship with us so much so that He always has been with us in some form.
All of this was reconfirmed to me during a beach walk I had a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful cool, sunny morning…perfect for praying and enjoying creation.
As I walked, I thanked God for such a serene setting. Prompted by a cool breeze on my face, the thought of walking with God “in the cool of the day” flooded my thoughts. In my mind was a brief picture of walking in a beautiful, peaceful garden with God walking beside me.
The image brought me great hope because I know as a believer there will come a time when we all will have the opportunity to walk with God just as Adam and Eve did.
Yet strangely, even with the thought fresh in my mind, I felt a bit…well…lonely.
I know God is always with me, but while I was walking I did wonder what it would be like to have a tangible sign of His presence with me at that moment.
As I was processing my thoughts I became very cognizant of the warmth of the sun on my left shoulder. Oddly, this caused me to turn my gaze to my right.
Then I saw it…
It was moving right along side of me in perfect unison with my steps.
Just like two beings walking as one.
Of course, I have seen my shadow following me along all of my life, but I never viewed it in the way I saw it in that moment.
My shadow, appearing because of my posture in the light of the sun, reminded me that I never walk alone.
It was as if God was saying, “Joan, I am right here walking beside you just like I promised I always would.”
As believers today, we don’t have a tangible cloud or pillar of fire of God’s presence to bring us comfort.
We certainly don’t have the incarnate Jesus walking among us (but how cool would that be!).
We, of course, do have the Holy Spirit with us, but living in a fallen world it is easy to lose sight of that at times.
But the Word of God is rich with promises of His presence including Hebrews 13:5 which reminds us of God’s heart: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
With this knowledge we can rest in the fact that no matter how much we bumble, stumble and grumble our way through this life, God is always with us.
From the very moment mankind was created, and throughout every single moment following, God has been with us.
My tangible shadow produced by my posture in light reminded me that God walks with me…always.
As believers pressing into the Light, we can be assured we will never walk alone.