God’s omnipotent presence is made known to the Israelites as “angel of God,” and by a “pillar of cloud.” God serves as a protector, going before the Israelites and later behind them. This divine presence “steps” between the army of Egypt and the Israelites.
God serves our lives in similar fashion. Because of God’s omnipresence, we can depend on God to serve in multiple capacities throughout our lives. Sometimes God steps out in front, guiding and directing our paths. Other times God goes behind us, protecting us from seen and unseen dangers. God also walks beside us as our loving and faithful companion.
Like the Israelites we frequently witness God at work in our lives. When God goes before us, we feel confident and become more aware of divine presence. We become trustworthy and more dependent on God. When God moves behind us, we may feel abandoned, lonely, and afraid. Sadly, we lack confidence in the presence of the Almighty in our lives.
As the Israelites witnessed God’s miraculous work, they feared God while believing in the Lord and also the Lord’s servant Moses. They sang a song afterward praising God for God’s mighty acts and for their newfound freedom.
I encourage you to sit quietly and reflect on a time when you sensed God’s active engagement in your life. Then reflect on another time when you felt abandoned by God. Link these thoughts together as you develop a keen awareness of God carrying and sustaining you, even when you felt all alone.
Gracious God, I am aware of your presence, and I thank you for carrying me through difficult times, never leaving my side. Heighten my awareness of your presence as I realize you will stand with me and see me through. In the holy name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Exodus 14 narrates the Exodus event in stylized liturgical statements. It tells of God’s utter commit- ment to Israel and of Israel’s fearful doubt. This is a narrative “toward faith.” Psalm 114 is a buoyant, almost de ant cele- bration of the Exodus, in which all the enemies of Yahweh are put to embarrassing ight. It is recalled that Yahweh’s sovereign power to liberate is decisive for the world, as it is for Israel. In Romans 14 Paul struggles with the issue of free- dom within obedience and moves us beyond the letter of the law to its spirit. For Paul, the attitude of faith shapes human conduct. The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew reminds all would-be disciples that law must be tempered with mercy in their dealings with one another if they expect to receive mercy from God.
• Read Exodus 14:19-31. How can you tell when God is guiding you? When in your life have you wondered if God was still there? Reflect on those times.
• Read Psalm 114. “Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” Substitute your name for Judah and Israel in this verse and pray the words several times. How does it feel to be called God’s sanctuary and dominion?
• Read Romans 14:1-12. How do you observe a weekly sabbath? Are there businesses in your community that close for a sabbath? How does that practice affect you?
• Read Matthew 18:21-35. Whom do you want or need to for- give? Why and how might you avoid this issue? How will you pray about this?
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