Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me . . .” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then Moses said to him, “If your Presences does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:12, 14-16
“Daddy, will you go with me?” All three of our daughters asked that question when the time came to have their wisdom teeth removed. Understandably nervous, they wanted the calm, steady, reassuring presence of their daddy in the room with them for the entire procedure. They wanted to hold his hand when the Novocain needle went into their gums; they wanted to hear his words of encouragement and feel his pat on their toes as they opened their mouths wide and shut their eyes tight. They knew if their daddy was with them, everything would be okay. And each time, their daddy was there. He cleared his calendar, and he was there right beside them. Later, I would bring them comfort at home, but in the uncharted territory of the oral surgeon’s office, they wanted their daddy to go with them. It was too big for them alone.
I thought about this today as I read the passage in Exodus. God gave Moses an assignment too big for him to handle alone. God knew it, and God needed Moses to know it too. Moses needed to understand he could not lead the Israelites into the Promised Land by himself. He needed God to go with him. After everything Moses had been through, after all of God’s miraculous provision, after hearing God’s voice and speaking with Him face to face, after forty years of wandering, Moses was still in the middle of the desert, leading people who were unruly, complaining, and difficult. And now, because of their stiff-necks, God informed Moses that He would not go with them into the Promised Land. Moses faced an overwhelming and fearful unknown, but it was the reality of facing it alone that broke Moses. Suddenly, with six simple words, “I will not go with you,” everything Moses thought he understood, everything he relied on and believed crashed down on him. He realized the frustrations of quarrelsome people didn’t matter, the discomfort of the desert didn’t matter, the monotony of the food didn’t matter, the promise of a land of milk and honey didn’t matter. Nothing mattered now but God’s presence, nothing was more important than learning God’s ways and finding favor with God, nothing surpassed the urgency of seeing God’s glory and remaining with God. “Unless You go with us, God. . . Abba, Daddy, will You go with me?”
Four years ago, I found myself standing right where Moses was. God gave me an assignment too big for me to handle alone. He knew it, and He needed me to know it too. In a moment in time, everything I thought I understood, everything I believed in and relied on distilled into a single sentence, “Your husband has glioblastoma, an incurable brain tumor.” Over the next eleven months, nothing mattered to our family but being together. We savored every moment, received each day as a gift, loved deeper, laughed harder, held on tighter and learned to really pray. But the day came we could never prepare for when God quietly took my husband’s hand and led him Home. His assignment here completed, he heard His Savior say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” My assignment, however, my too big for me to handle alone assignment, began that day. Like Moses, I cried out, “Unless You go with me . . . Abba, Daddy, will You go with me?” And just like Moses, I heard my LORD say, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
I am learning that little things don’t matter anymore. Quarrelsome people, toilet paper shortages, inconvenient public health requirements, political divisions and stock market volatility don’t matter. Trips to look forward to, leaky ceilings, and unexpected car maintenance don’t matter. I am learning to crave God’s presence more than comfort and convenience; I am learning to desire His ways more than chocolate; I am learning the urgency of seeing His glory and abiding in Him. I am learning to rest in His provision, in His goodness, and in His faithfulness. I care more about being known as His, than conforming to the expectations of others. I am learning to hear His still small voice on lonely nights telling me He is with me. I am learning His strength is greater than my weakness, His power is manifest in my emptiness. I am learning to hold His hand and walk with Him, to delight in His Word. I am learning to follow Him and depend on Him and find my joy in Him. I am learning He knows my name and He is delighted in me. I am learning there is no assignment I can complete on my own. I need Him. He knows my heart’s cry of “unless,” and His Presence is all I need, all I want, and He does go with me.
Father, thank You for being my all-sufficient Abba Daddy. Thank You for the assurance that Your Presence will go with me. Thank You that in You is rest and peace and security, no matter how difficult the assignment. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me in Jesus and for the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that I am never alone.
- What assignment has God given you that you are trying to complete on your own?
- How have you found God faithful in your unknowns?
- What is your heart’s cry? What is your “unless?”