Tuesday, November 15, 2011

God's Pillar

Recently at church, we were singing the Gaither classic Because He Lives. We are a contemporary church, but some classics are just so uplifting! The second verse of that song goes,

"How sweet to hold a newborn baby, 
And feel the pride and joy he gives,
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives."

Now, to be honest, I have had a hard time with how that verse really fits in to the bigger scheme of the song. It just seemed to stick out to me (I'm not questioning Bill Gaither's talent or the Holy Spirit leading him in writing this song!) This morning, however, God granted me a little perspective. A perspective that was sweet and humbling. A perspective of God's amazing love for us.

In Exodus 13, God gives Moses direction as to the consecration and celebration required in remembrance of the Passover. Then Moses describes where and why God is leading the Israelites a particular way (another example of God's care for their fragile spiritual state. see v. 17.) As the chapter closes, this is written:

He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people. (v.22)

Did you catch that? He was constantly before the people. They didn't have to question whether God was there; they didn't have to doubt whether God was leading them; they didn't have to worry about figuring their escape out on their own, all they had to do was follow. Wow!

Are you currently in a state of transition and are questioning where God is and what He wants you to do? I know I am. I yearn for more but I'm not sure what that more is. So, I sit and wait on God to reveal where He is at and where He wants me to be.

What is especially sweet to me about this passage is that God understood the people had been in darkness for over 400 years. He knew their faith was small, just starting to bud as they experienced God's greatness through the plagues He brought upon Egypt. He met them where they were and gave them the constant care that they needed in their infancy of faith.

This brings me back to the newborn baby of the song Because He lives. As I was meditating on Exodus, I began to think of the Israelites as a newborn baby or an infant who needs almost constant contact with his/her mother for security and safety. The baby depends on his momma to take care of him. He depends on his momma to protect him. He depends on her to comfort him when he is feeling insecure or scared. Remind you of the Israelites?

This relationship between parent and child is so precious to both the parent and the child. The parent feels the joy and pride of his/her new baby. The child has the calm assurance that her parent will care for her despite not knowing what is ahead.

The same can be said for God and the Israelites. God is so excited about His renewed relationship with Israel. He is doing everything He can (which is the best ever!) to show His love and care for His children. He is even going to physically walk them out of slavery into freedom! The Israelites on the other hand can have the calm assurance that God is there to watch over, protect, provide, and lead them despite the uncertain days coming. (Now we know that the relationship does not stay this idealistic - despite God's presence, the Israelites still have weakness of faith.)

You may be thinking, "That's really great that God did that for the Israelites. If I had that I would never stray. I would be the best Christian ever - always following God and depending on Him!"

Well, the good news is God has done that for you and me . . . in an ever better way! If you have believed in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit is God living IN you (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19)! ". . .[B]ecause the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Rom. 5:5. He is your Helper (John 14:16), Provider of gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; I Cor. 12:8-11); Intercessor in prayer (Rom. 8:26); and your Seal of salvation and Deposit of future things to come (I Cor. 1:22). He is with you forever (John 14:16)!

So, just as God showed His love and care for the Israelites by displaying himself as a Pillar of cloud/fire during the exodus, God shows His love for you and me by depositing His Holy Spirit in us at salvation so we can walk in faith out of dark slavery into the freedom light. In any even greater way, He continues with us as we live out the rest of our days. And during those ensuing days, He meets us where we are with what we need through His Holy Spirit (a continual, everlasting Pillar)!

I now know I want to be that newborn baby in Because He Lives, curled up in the protective, caring, loving, providing, and leading arms of God, maintaining a calm assurance despite the uncertain future because His Spirit lives in me.

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