In Exodus 33, Moses and God were having a discussion about entering the Promised Land. Imagine that! Having a discussion with God. In Exodus 33:14-15, God says something interesting, at least to me.
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
God had promised Moses and the Israelites that they would live in a land He promised them. From slavery in Egypt to freedom in a land of promise. That’s a pretty good deal. But God said something very interesting to me. He tells them He would personally go with them. As they enter the land, they need not fear anything or anyone, because He would personally be there. Sounds great! But then God says He would give them rest. That’s interesting to me. In my simple mind, I would have thought God would have said that He would go with them and give them success or victory or something like that. Or maybe that He would give them protection or favor. But God tells them He would give them rest.
“I will give you rest.” The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I can see how precious and wonderful rest would be. They rush out of Egypt. They are chased by Pharaoh and are miraculously rescued by God. They wander in the wilderness for years. A generation will not enter the Promised Land. I guess rest would be really nice for people who knew nothing except slavery and who never had their own land.
When I am walk and abide in Christ, I experience His presence. God’s encouragement to me is whether I am in a challenging situation, a stressful circumstance, wandering in a wilderness, entering a new season, experience or opportunity, if I am abiding in Christ, I will experience His presence … and He will give me rest. The more I think about it, the better that sounds. More than success or victory, rest sounds so great! I have experienced exciting times, successful times, times of victory and so often felt really weary afterwards. I have seen people do amazing things and burn out because the pace was too great.
I think of Pete Wilson who resigned recently from a church of about 7,000, saying, “I haven’t prioritized some other things that were equally as important. Leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well. For some time, I’ve been leading on empty … I really need your prayers and I need your support. We’ve said that this is a church where it’s OK to not be OK, and I’m not OK. I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest.”
I am learning that as I abide in Christ, I experience God’s presence in a greater way and He gives me something I really need, rest. I am learning that if I am not feeling rested, it’s a good indication that I have not been abiding in Christ. I need to examine my heart. I think of the words of Jeremiah 6:16.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
How often I ignore the leading of the Lord. I choose not to ask where the good way is. Instead I decide that I know what to do, that I know where to go and going to God is not necessary. What I am actually doing is choosing not to ask where the good way is and I choose not to abide in Him. And I miss out. I miss out on His best and also His rest. How often? Too often. But the encouragement is this journey that God has put me on. How great of my Father in heaven to love me enough to encourage me to abide in Him more.
“Father, forgive me for ignoring your leading and saying, ‘I will not walk in it.'” Forgive me for thinking I know better what the good way is. I repent and turn back to you. Help me get to the point where I can say what Moses said to you, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”