God Is

Day 18

The Lord is in This Place

Read your Bible: Hebrews 13:5,6

Spotlight Verse:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6

One day when I was in grade school my mother found me crumpled in the hallway crying. The next day was “Bring Dad To School Day” — and I didn’t have anyone to bring.

As I mentioned yesterday, my dad died of cancer. That happened a month before my 4th birthday. Loneliness, and I mean bone-deep loneliness, soon set in, lasting for years, and resulting in many scenes like the one in the hallway that day.

I will never forget what happened next.

My mom, who had not been a Christian for very long, sat down on the floor next to me, hugged me, and spoke words of deep theology:

You know, René, most kids don’t have what you have. You have not one, but two fathers in heaven! And while your dad Fred can’t be with you anymore, your Heavenly Father is always with you.

He is with you every time you walk to school,
and every time you are on the playground,
and every time you play a sport,
and every time you eat lunch,
take a test,
walk home…
He will never leave you.

She was explaining one practical result of believing in the omnipresence of God: He is not just there as an omnipresent Watcher — He is a participant. He is my Savior. My Comforter. My ever-present Helper in times of trouble.

Your Past and Your Future

Maybe, like me, you experienced the loss of a parent through death. Or there was a different loss, through divorce or separation.

Maybe you moved so much while growing up that you never had a chance to make lasting friends. You were always the new kid.

Maybe you’ve always felt like the odd person out in school, at work, and even in your family. You’ve been left more times than you care to recount.

And now, when meeting new people, you’re crippled by a sense of suspicion and inevitability. You wonder who is going to hurt you this time. You look at the future and see not a promised land of new friends and relationships but just the likelihood of more broken dreams.

In Deuteronomy 31, the people of Israel are on the edge of the Promised Land. After 40 hard years on the move in the desert, they’re terrified. Moses is dying, they’ve got a new leader, everything’s changing, they’re afraid of their future, and they’re afraid of their enemies. Then Moses raises his hands and as part of his final pep talk says:

Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

He will never leave you or forsake you.

Nothing and no one else can say that.

To the people of Israel God is saying, “Even when Moses dies, I’ll still be right here. I will never leave you.”

And God is saying the same thing to you.

Even if your leader dies

Even if your family leaves you

Even if your spouse abandons you

Even if your children reject you

I will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.


Contentment and Omnipresence

In today’s reading in Hebrews, the writer quotes that verse from Deuteronomy, and his application is this: Keep your life free from the love of money and a desire for stuff you don’t have. Because God will never leave you nor forsake you.

How is contentment related to the omnipresence of God?

Well, when you have abandonment issues, it can be easy to find comfort in your stuff. It makes you feel like you’ve arrived in some sense, and it can be an attempt to show those who’ve judged you that you’ve made it — or an attempt to gain their approval.

But if you know that God is with you, the need for that fades.

The Lord Is In This Place

Writing on the omnipresence of God, Bill Hybels suggests a phrase to say out loud when afraid or lonely: “The Lord is in this place.”

That phrase comes from the story of Jacob in the Bible. He sees a vision of God and says, “Surely the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not!” (Genesis 28:16)

That was his trouble. And that’s our trouble. The Lord is always here, but we know it not.

Tempted? Say it. Scared? Lonely? Intimidated? Overwhelmed? Try repeating that phrase until its truth comforts you…

“The Lord is in this place.”

“The Lord is in this place.”

“The Lord is in this place.”

Questions For Reflection

In what areas of life do you need to be “strong and courageous” right now?

How can an awareness of God’s presence make the difference?