If the exact same words, spoken by God Himself, turn up in front of your eyes twice in the same day, you should probably sit up and take notice. Last week, it was these words–
But I will be with you.
I read it in Exodus, when God calls Moses and Moses cannot comprehend how he can ever do this work. And I read it again in Judges, when God calls Gideon and Gideon lists all the reasons he is the wrong guy for this job.
None of it matters. None of Moses’s fear or insecurity or inability. None of Gideon’s cowardice or lack of credentials or humble station in life. None of these things are important, because of this one thing–
I will be with you.
All of Moses’s fears were based in truth, and so were Gideon’s. But they were not based in the truth that really matters– the all-surpassing reality of the presence of God.
To both Moses and Gideon, God shows great love and compassion, proving as David knew that He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He gives them all the signs and tools they need to accomplish their tasks– miraculous assurances, clear instructions, promise of victory. He even maintains patience with Moses when he insists he can’t speak in front of people, providing Aaron as a spokesman. And He shows great mercy to Gideon, giving the sign of the fleece not once, but twice.
But He had already given them what they really needed.
I will be with you.
Everything else they thought they needed– all the assurances and signs and wonders and help– those things were given, but they were less than what they already had. They were bread and water when they had a banquet already spread before them. God equipped them, and met them where they were, and dealt with all their weaknesses and insecurities, but the truth is that He had already given them the most important thing. And I am forced to wonder, how many times have I cried out to God for a sign, for help, saying I can’t possibly do this without _______________, when I have already received all I need?
In the back of my mind I hear these words– But, Erin! I am already with you!
Here’s the thing. I believe God loves us to ask for help. He answers when we cry out to Him. He gives us everything we need, and often He gives us things we don’t really need because we are afraid and He delights to sooth our childish hearts. His love is tender and compassionate and He knows all our weaknesses. But as we grow, as we walk with Him daily through years of our lives, experiencing His daily presence and His daily mercies and His care and provision and protection, God expects us to learn to need less of the outer signs of His provision.
I think God desires us to learn the sweet sufficiency of Him alone.
He will always give us help in need, but I think He wants us to grow so that we remember and trust and live in the truth that He is all we truly need, and He is always with us..
When my sister was a baby just learning to walk, she would cruise around the room, like most babies do, holding tight to the couch or the chair or whatever furniture was there to help her. Eventually she stopped needing the support and balance that she got from the furniture, but she didn’t trust her own ability to walk unaided. She would race around the living room, one finger trailing lightly on the couch or the coffee table. And when she came to the place where there was nothing to hold onto, she would fall down on hands and knees and crawl. Her problem wasn’t her lack of ability, but her lack of faith.
And so it is with me. God gives me all this wonderful support– friends, family, daily blessings, spiritual mentors, and a sense of His presence. But now and then there are lonely places, empty places where I am that toddler standing on one edge of a furnitureless gap, trying to decide what to do. And so often, I fall on my hands and knees and crawl, crying the whole way, pleading for something to lean on, failing to recognize that I already have what I need. I have my God, and the testimony of His Word is sure– that regardless of my feelings or my situation, God is with me.
He will never leave me or forsake me.
Nothing can separate me from His love.
He is with me always, even to the end of the age.
Even in the scary places. Even when I can’t figure out how to get from here to there. Even when I feel inadequate, unworthy, hopeless, and unprepared. Those things may very well be true, but they do not matter.
The truths of my weaknesses and failings are completely swept away by this greater truth.
Yes, you are small. Yes, you are weak. Yes, you feel alone and things look hopeless. Yes, it is hard to see Me right now. But, My child, I am with you. And that’s all that matters.