But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. Joshua 1:3
Life is such a journey. It can be full of splendor and wonder or full of choking dust and scorching heat. As much as we like to think differently, stepping out of our house in the morning and driving our cars is a journey that’s pretty much out of our control. These are things I consider when I drive. Looking around, you’re surrounded by creations that mostly think for themselves and can be completely random at the strangest, and potentially most dangerous, times. Life isn’t about control, really. It’s about faith. More about that later.
These passages are both about presence. Acts 1:8 speaks about being Jesus’ global witnesses with the presence of the Holy Spirit. And while this particular verse in Joshua doesn’t speak of the presence of God with Joshua, it does speak to the journey itself, until verse nine. Then the presence of God with Joshua is made evident. God promises presence with Joshua and Jesus promises the Holy Spirit’s presence with the disciples as they both journeyed in the world God set before them, and it hasn’t changed. God in his Triune presence is with us yet today.
God’s presence isn’t necessarily felt. Granted, there are times when we can feel the Holy Spirit joining us. It’s palpable, almost as if you can reach out and actually touch Him. But as many times as we feel this way, there are perhaps more times where we don’t feel the presence of God. This is where God’s F-word comes to into play: Faith. Our faith, made abundant through Christ, helps us push through those times where we feel alone and we’re walking where we’ve never been, much like the Hebrews and Jesus’ disciples (1 Timothy 1:4).
Part of my morning prayer time has been praying for God’s presence with people. My family, my brothers and sisters from the search committee, friends, elders, and church staff are all called before God, asking his presence with them. Two benefits for me have come from this practice. The first is pretty selfish: it helps me memorize their names! Second, however, it teaches me I’m not alone – God’s gift of a rich panoply of soul-journers palpably demonstrates God’s presence to me. As you journey through life, feeling alone, perhaps missing the presence of God, speak to a friend. God’s only a whisper away.
By Rich Obrecht