June 20 – “The Presence of God”
John Ortberg writes, “The central promise in the Bible is not “I will forgive you,” although of course that promise is there. It is not the promise of life after death, although we are offered that as well. The most frequent promise in the Bible is ‘I will be with you.’”
Scripture tells us that God is with us a lot because we need to hear it a lot.
But there are times in our lives when we feel alone, that not even God is with us and that is frightening. But here is the truth – feelings aren’t reliable, but promises are. So, when you “feel” God isn’t near, I want to remind you that HE IS, because he promised this to you long ago.
As a boy growing up in the heart of Philadelphia, it was somewhat dangerous for Tony Campolo to walk to school all by himself. So what his mother did was pay a neighborhood girl named Harriet, who was a few years older than him, to be responsible for getting Tony to and from school each day. Harriet was paid five cents a day for her service.
As Tony grew a bit older, he became very conscious of what he believed was not only an enormous amount of money going into Harriet’s hands, but a pride issue at its core. So Tony went to his mother and told her that there was no need for her to pay Harriet any longer, that he could walk myself to school. He assured her that he would do it with no problem at all. At first his mother balked, but after begging and begging her, his mother finally gave in and said, “Okay, but you be careful.”
Years later, after his mother had passed away, Tony was at a family get-together. He reminded his sisters of his independent spirit, pointing back to when he was a child and needed no one’s protection in walking to and from school each day. His sisters immediately broke into laughter and one of them said, “Did you think that you went to school alone and came home alone? Every day when you left the house Mom followed you. And when you home came out of school at the end of the day, she was there. She always made sure that you didn’t notice her, but she watched over you coming and going, making sure you were safe and that nobody hurt you.”
When Tony questioned the veracity of their statement his other sister asked, “Didn’t it ever occur to you that there was something strange about the fact that when you knocked on the door when you got home each day that mom didn’t answer for at least a minute? That’s because she would follow you home then sneak in the back door. Tony, she was watching you all the time!”
God knew that there would be times when we would feel alone, and it hurt him to think of that. So, throughout Scripture he made sure this one promise was repeated over and over again: “I will be with you.” God has kept that promise and will continue to do so, always. For with God, a promise is a promise.
God’s hope is that you will take that to heart today.