“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
How does this make you feel when you read these words from Exodus? It brings a sense of calm and peace to me. I need to know that I am not alone in this difficult, stressful, crazy life that we live in. The thing is, God has told us this from the beginning. We are not alone. He is always with us and always walks with us.
There have been many stressful situations in my life. Some of them I struggled through without relying on God and others I had no choice but to surrender to God to carry me. I remember the teenage years. Oh how I wish I had turned to God then and asked him to guide me through the difficulties of growing, friends, boys, dating, independence and more. But I knew better. I knew better than my parents, I knew better than everyone. So, I made many mistakes. I suffered and wondered why these years were so tough for me.
It wasn’t that I was totally apart from God, but I was not working on my relationship with him actively. I was not listening to him or looking for him. I was not studying his word or seeking his guidance. Looking back, I now know he was with me all the time, but I was not acknowledging his presence.
Early in my marriage, I opened my heart a sliver to let God through. We struggled through infertility, financial woes, work stress, and many other obstacles that newly married couples face. Yes, I was beginning to scratch the surface of building my relationship with God. And mostly because of how empty I felt not being able to conceive. Like Hannah in Samuel, I cried out to God to give me a child. God answered my prayers. He blessed us over several years with 3 babies. My relationship was growing stronger and I was witnessing miracles in my own life daily. Miracles that were always there, but I was now more aware of them around me.
My 2nd child had a brain tumor, diagnosed at the young age of 16 months and died at 17 months. For those of you who have read my other blogs, you already know this story. This was a turning point in my life. This was the crossroad where I surrendered completely or turned and left God. However, God had been preparing me. He had planted seeds of faith from the day I was born and he knew that I would not turn my back on him.
How could I? He had my baby now and would one day have me too. Why would I want to turn my back on him?
So, desperate, aching, grieving, and lost – I surrendered. I let go of everything tangible in this world, I fell to my knees and pleaded with God to help me breath again, help me move again and help me live again.
I have felt his presence in my life every day since then. If I feel stressed or strangled by circumstance, I just close my eyes and whisper a prayer and I feel him again. I listen to worship music on the way to work and reflect on how God is working my life today before I even start my day.
God never left me, even in my most difficult days. He lifted me up and made sure I could put one foot in front of the other. And when I couldn’t physically put one foot in front of the other, he sat with me until I could.
The more I study God’s Word, the more I realize I don’t know! And I am invigorated inside. I want to learn more. I want to experience more. I want to be more, for God.
And, knowing that his presence is with me wherever I go, how can I fail? I just need to listen to him!