God is With You
Joshua 1:9 ESV
Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
Romans 8:38-39 ESV
As the song goes, “been a lotta places in my lifetime…” and in my case, I’ve lived in a lotta places in my lifetime. Ministry sometimes does that.
While some folks may think that’s not a good thing, I have come to believe it’s a great thing. I know what it’s like to live in a major metropolitan city. I’ve also learned how people live in the country. I know how to get to know people in a small town. I know how to navigate the waters in a small city. I also came full circle to live in a larger city.
The funny thing is that now that I’m back in the country, I no longer feel isolated. Of course, I’m almost forty years older now and because I’ve lived in so many different places I think God gave me a unique perspective on life.
I found that wherever I lived, God was there loving people and drawing them in with marvelous love.
I’ve also learned to appreciate solitude. I love early morning sunrises when I can sit on the front porch swing with my dog and breathe in the fresh morning air.
I adore glorious sunsets, especially in the Fall.
I’ve found there’s nothing quite like the first snowfall of the season.
I appreciate a Spring thaw as winter slips away.
I think that’s because in all of those seasons I’ve experienced the presence of God.
Joshua 1:9 tells us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In every season, through every night and day God has been with me wherever I’ve gone. Even when life was crazy with screaming children and barking dogs, God was there.
Especially when I found myself alone and was surrounded by quiet during the mornings, at noon, and at night, God was there. Ever so close…God is there.
I believe I’ve been blessed by living in so many different places. Because I’ve had a variety of experiences and have met a lot of different people, I can understand just a little bit what life is like for others.
I know what church is like when there are 25 members. I know what it’s like to worship with the same people week after week, year after year. I know how much they depend on each other. They have witnessed every marriage and have been there for every death. They know how God has helped and blessed every member of the congregation.
I’ve also seen them in their defining moments. When sudden death came, they carried each other. Everyone in the church cried and held onto their hurting neighbors. By their actions they shared God’s love.
On the other end of the spectrum, I know what it’s like to be part of a 15,000 member congregation. In a church that large, every member does not personally know the ministry staff so they depend on cell groups in their time of need. It’s like there are hundreds of congregations that develop and support those in need. By their actions they share God’s love to those they know and to others they’ve just met.
While I’ve found that there are definite advantages to both kinds of congregations (as well as many different sizes in-between) one is not better or more effective than another. Each congregation had their own unique sets of strengths.
God was with them all.
God loved them all.
One wasn’t better than the other.
That’s because God was in their midst.
The Prophet Zephaniah wrote in Zephaniah 3:17:
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
That’s exactly what I experienced. God was ever-present with every person in the small congregation. God was also ever-present with every person in the large congregation.
The people I served with knew God would be with them no matter what.
The Apostle Paul was raised Hebrew. He studied all his life and became a well-respected Rabbi in the Temple. He thought he knew what his life would look like. He thought every day he would get up, pray, and go to Temple to speak for God. He was sure he knew what tomorrow would bring. He opposed the new Jesus movement. He persecuted the People of the Way who followed Jesus.
Then one day while he was traveling on the Road to Damascus, a blinding white light seized him and he met Jesus who changed his life forever. Nothing was ever the same again for Paul. From that moment on, everyday brought unexpected changes for the rest of his life. His words in Romans 8:38-39 tell us how Paul viewed and relied on God’s great love every day, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The bottom line is that nothing can or will separate us from God’s love.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Lean in and let God love you.
Spend quiet time with God just letting God love you.
In God, Deborah