Promised Presence

Monday, December 30, 1996

Exodus 33:11-17 – The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. 12 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. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." 14 The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." 15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 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?" 17 And the Lord said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name." (NIV)

    Moses stood upon the lava rock strewn mountain
    in front of that camel's hair tent,
    Bedouin garbed,
    grey wispy hair rope bound in place
    arguing with God's presence in the whirling pillared cloud.
    Arguing on behalf of a confused
    hope lost, desolation plagued,
    wilderness blinded people.
    A people who knew only slavery
    to the brick pits of Egypt.
    Hope denied having given birth to rumbling discontent,
    and this birth, desolate people,
    still slave bound by invisible chains
    to what is best known
    desiring to taste, to touch, to feel the familiar,
    could not
    or would not
    in a God who could not be seen
    or felt
    or experienced in a concrete way.
    How could they know?
    They had not yet experienced God's promise fulfilled.
    So Moses stood before that swirling pillared cloud
    symbol of God's presence
    pleading the cause of a people
    whose hope had been lost in sand.
    And God said to Moses,
    "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest."

    To enslaved people in every age, that is also God's promise.
    When desolation plagues,
    ennui enfolds the world wearied,
    and hope is lost,
    when glaring glitter blinds,
    and tawdry trinkets promise
    what they are unable to deliver,
    it is then that God enters their hazy twilight existence
    piercing their darkness with shafts of brilliant light and love.
    God's Presence experienced through Jesus the Messiah, brings
    hope, love, and rest.

Prayer: Mighty God, As you delivered the Hebrew people from their bondage, even so deliver your people today. As they knew you from your mighty acts, even so, act in our lives today. As you promised them your Presence to go with them, even so, be with us today, in the New Year, and every day. Amen.

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Cassandra Wessel <>
Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA

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