“Halloween is coming soon!” exclaimed my three-year-old one bright spring day in May. He was sporting his costume from the previous year as we began discussing the only trick-or-treating experience he had memory of and whether we would do the same again. He asked, “Is Daddy coming with us?”
My son is a daddy’s boy through and through, but that question reflected a much deeper place in his heart. From the time he was ten-months-old, my husband’s work schedule had changed every one to six months. By the grace of God, he never completely missed any important holidays or events, but for our son, the ever-changing schedule had created a lack of predictability, leading him to ask in most circumstances, “Is Daddy coming with us?”
I’m usually hesitant to make any definitive statements until the day of because it’s always possible my husband could get called in to work. On that day, however, I slipped in this resolve and whipped out the calendar to check if October 31 happened to be my husband’s day off. I grinned as I pointed to the day in question and told him, “YES! Daddy isn’t working that day!” At this, my son jumped up, pumped his clinched fists in the air, and exclaimed, “HE IS COMING WITH US!” His face beamed, and my heart melted.
All of our lives are equally as uncertain as that of my son’s, whether our schedules are unpredictable or laid out neatly in Pinterest-worthy planners. Many of us know this firsthand all too well. We have had dreams unrealized, sudden losses, unexpected job changes, and hardships that have felt like a sucker-punch. As much as we fight to maintain a sense of control and order, more often than not, our days, weeks, and years do not go as planned. I know mine don’t and when they don’t, I find myself grasping at whatever tangible thing I believe may provide comfort or stability.
If we’re honest, sometimes life leaves us questioning whether God is with us in this journey. Moses felt this too, as you can well imagine. There he was, tasked with leading thousands upon thousands to the Promised Land, as he met face to face with God one day, he said, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15 NIV)
Can you feel the urgency of this? Moses is in the desert. The Israelites have come out of Egypt and are wandering around with no permanent home. The Lord tells Moses to lead the people to the Promised Land but says His Presence will not go with them, only that He would send an angel to defeat their adversaries along the way.
Moses knew they needed more; they needed the Lord Himself. His meeting with the Lord reflects this as he essentially says, “Scrap the whole trip! No, we have no trip insurance, but that doesn’t matter. I cannot possibly lead this without You. It’s over. We aren’t going.” The Lord then says He will go with them.
As believers living after Jesus’ ascension, we have more than a cloud by day and a fire by night. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have the eternal assurance of Jesus when He says that He will never leave us or forsake us. Unlike my son and the Israelites, we never have to utter the words, “Is He coming with us?” because we have a guarantee. This is true when we can sense His presence and when we cannot, because He is living in us.
That valley you’re in? He is with you.
The mountain top you’re on? He is with you.
The hospital room you’re confined to? He is with you.
The 2am feeding with your newborn? He is with you.
The tense meeting at work? He is with you.
The everyday mundaneness of life? He is with you.
There is never a moment He leaves because His fire and His cloud have taken up residence within our very beings. We need not search for a substitute or stand-in; we have the real deal. When I remember this, it changes everything. In answered prayers and in crushing defeats, I have felt His presence. In the grief of losing a loved one to suicide, I have felt His presence. In the despair of watching someone close to me deal with an opioid addiction, I have felt His presence. In the inner nudge to strike up a conversation with a stranger, I have seen His faithfulness, and in the everyday and the extraordinary, He has been there. Indeed, He has never left me or forsaken me, and He will never leave or forsake you either. What a joyous privilege we have to be able to say with confidence, “He is going with us!”