[Exo 34:9 NLT] 9 And he said, “O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with you, then please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.”
There is a lot of angst today; the entire world seems to be in tremendous upheaval. Just turn on the TV, and you can see it in real-time. This morning on Facebook, My friend who lives in Italy posted that she had to go and pay her power bill. A responsibility, in Italy that must be done in person and cannot be completed online . The good news is she will see other people, but the regulations say that no one can get close to each other or the bill-paying counter. In jest, my friend said she was training for this bill-paying adventure by making and flying paper airplanes. With a little practice, she might successfully get the bill to the person behind the counter. I have to admit the thought of it is pretty amusing. We need to keep a sense of humor even in these very uncertain days, but the truth of the matter is, even paying your bills now can feel lonely.
My grandsons come to play from time to time. Luckily for them, we have kept many of our children’s old toys. We drag the big bins of toys into the bonus room, and it becomes a kid’s utopia of sorts. We have lots of fun up there. Occasionally, though if we are all downstairs and one of the kiddos wants a toy that happens to be upstairs, they coerce a sibling to go with them to get it. It isn’t like the bonus room is far away or even dark, but going it alone makes them scared. Even a 2 -yr. old brother can make them feel more courageous!
Isolation leading to loneliness is becoming a common theme today, and that is hard, especially for the extrovert. My son is an extrovert; he gets all his energy from time spent with others. Fortunately for me, I am more introvert than extrovert. Don’t get me wrong, I love people and need people; but not all the time. Time to sit quietly and peacefully alone is my happy place. I have often said, a cabin in the mountains on a lake would be heaven. A cup of tea on my back porch, listening to the birds is my situation this morning. It is as close as I am going to get to that lakeside cabin. But one thing I know for sure, being alone for an excessively long, extended period would make one rather miserable.
As I sit here this morning, enduring the social distancing directive, I have a new appreciation and admiration for the elderly shut-in. For some years before mom went to be with Jesus, she lived alone and when it came time for her to stop driving, my sister and I took over those jobs she could no longer manage. We grocery shopped for her, picked up her meds, took the dog to the vet and gathered the many numbers of things on her list of needs. And the fact that we were doing these tasks created even more isolation in her life. She saw us; she saw her neighbors, but she seldom got out to see other people. It was lonely for her and we could see it displayed on her countenance.
Moses began to feel a bit separated from God when God told him He would no longer travel with the people of Israel. An angel would be leading them from now on. God told Moses that the wandering Israelites were too sinful and their worship of the golden calf at the bottom of the mountain had just tipped the scale in favor of God’s departure.
God was the one who let Moses know his people downhill were on thin ice. He told Moses, “quick, go down the mountain because YOUR people are down there sinning.” Hearing those words, YOUR people, put Moses in a bit of a panic. (Ex 32:7) My guess is he thought,“MY people?” it seems Moses didn’t want to claim them as his and I don’t blame him. Scripture tells us that Moses quickly responded trying to pacify the Lord’s anger by reminding him they were “HIS people.” (Ex 32:11) Hadn’t God told Moses many times during the past to tell Pharaoh to let MY people go. (Ex5:1) “My people” meaning God’s people. Moses reminded God; these people are YOURS. A bit of HOT potato happening here. When all the mess down below was made right. Moses interceded for the people with everything in his being. But here is the point I want you to see, God was not going to go any further with these people. He was from now on planning to send an angel- no more pillar of fire and cloud. And then God did an amazing thing, he showed Moses his glory. Moses threw himself to the ground and worshiped. Moses now knew he and his people COULD NOT go forward without God and he pleaded with God, “please travel with us. …Claim us as your own special possession.” I imagine Moses might have been thinking, I need YOU so badly, I need you to be with me and to give me courage for the task ahead. And in that moment God made a Covenant with Moses, and said, “I WILL go ahead of you.” (Exodus 34:11)
Isn’t this what we want, for God to travel with us and claim us as His special possession? The beautiful thing for the believer in Jesus is that God does journey with us, and he claims us as his very own. He claims us even when the world seems to be crumbling before our very eyes. There are so many verses to assure us of this fact. But the one I run to the most is Ephesians 1:14, which tells us the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a deposit on our inheritance of eternity with Jesus. Just like we deposit money in the bank. God deposited the Holy Spirit IN us, not just on us! So, today while you are social distancing, as a believer in Jesus, you are not alone. You are not isolated. The Holy Spirit is with you and wants to be your comforter. The Holy Spirit is the one to make you more courageous as our world shakes and shudders. We are told that the same Spirit that raised Christ dwells in us. What a marvelous thought and great comfort having him is! And if you watch and listen for opportunity, you will see ways you can encourage others as they are on this coronavirus journey too.
And if by chance, you don’t know Jesus, there is no better time than right now to place your trust in him. He came to rescue the world and he wants to rescue you too. He desires a relationship, a one on one bond. He wants to walk with you and give you courage. Scripture gives us great assurance that when we are in that relationship, he will never leave us or forsake us.