In Exodus 33 Moses "negotiating" with God about leading God's people through the wilderness. In verse 14, God made this promise. “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” What a great promise and what a great reality for Moses and for us. The presence of God is with us just like it was with the people we read in the pages of the Bible. The key challenge for all of us is being aware of that presence and being attentive to it.
Jacob struggled with that in Genesis 28. He had an incredible dream that included a celestial staircase going to heaven with angels of God ascending and descending in an escalator type fashion. The Lord stood above it and offered some incredible words of assurance to Jacob. Jacob 's response was to say: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Now before I castigate Jacob, I must evaluate my own level of oblivion.
Several years ago a particular car company was introducing their new mini-van that had sliding doors on both sides - a novel concept back then. In order to make their point, they showed a family on vacation. This family went to a pier near the ocean where, they were told, dolphins would jump out of water right in front of their eyes. They drove onto the pier and everyone piled out of their mini-van leaving the doors opened. They stood at the end of the pier waiting for the dolphins, but none came. Meanwhile behind them the dolphins were diving through their mini-van. They missed the whole thing.
It is easy to get so locked into our own lives with their busyness and challenging circumstances that we struggle to see how God is present with us. We can easily be like Jacob or the folks in that mini-van commercial.
Brennan Manning used to speak about "present risenness" or being aware of the presence of the risen Christ in our lives and in our world. He said, "If our faith is alive and luminous, we will be alert to moments, events and occasions when the power of the resurrection is brought to bear on our lives. Self-absorbed andinattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention."
May God help us to be aware of His presence in our lives, attentive to how Jesus is "snagging our attention."
This Sunday (October 2) we'll be looking at the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus. This was a tangible expression of God's presence with His people. Please read Exodus 40 in preparation for Sunday's message.