The three words for today are: faith, led, and presence. When I read these words this morning the first thing that popped into my head was the story of the Hebrew people. They were led by Moses, they were sustained by faith, and they were accompanied by the presence of God as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day.
I read a book recently written by Bishop Ken Carder about prayer. He was explaining in his book that every church he had ever served had, what he called, A Back to Egypt Committee. This committee was a group of people within the church who resisted change and, “Longed for a time when things were bad.”
All of us have probably experienced a season in our life where we “longed for a time when things were bad”. The Hebrew people did not long to go back to slavery, but they longed to go back to a time where the bad things that were happening were things they understood. The same thing happens in our own lives when we long for a time when things were bad; we don’t long for it necessarily for those bad things, we long for the bad things that we understood. When in a time of change and upheaval we long for those things we are familiar with whether good or bad.
The Hebrew people were freed because of their faith and they were led by the very presence of God. Yet even then they longed for a time they were familiar with even though it was a period of slavery, because when you allow yourself to be led by the presence of God you open yourself up to a period of uncertainty and change. This causes us to long for a time of stability, no matter how questionable that stability.
We do not have the luxury of seeing a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day to show us that God is with us, but in times of uncertainty and change we can rest in the knowledge that we have Jesus, who is Immanuel, literally God with us.
So when you find yourself this week, or this year, or any time in your lifetime longing for a time when things were bad, remember that you are not alone in this longing: so many prophets, and pastors, and people of faith before us have been uncomfortable with the idea of change and newness.
When you allow yourself to be led by the very presence of God, you are allowing yourself to be led by change and uncertainty, but through faith God will provide and God will lead you to a land where justice will reign were all maybe well. And thanks be to God for that.