“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
If we took a survey today and asked how many of us felt the presence of God in our lives, what do you think the results would be? It’s only a guess, but I’m thinking many of us would say,
“I believe in God, but I don’t necessarily feel Him.”
It’s a hard place to be when you’re trying to be fully invested as a follower of Jesus, but you don’t feel His presence. How do you deal with that?
There was a moment when a Bible character famous for his courage did not feel God’s presence either. And it was almost a dealbreaker. Had Joshua not become intellectually convinced that God was with him – even though he could not see him or feel him – he surely would have declined the assigment to follow Moses as Israel’s next leader.
Obviously, the shoes (or sandals) of Moses would not be easy to fill. Moses was iconic. Standing next to him, Joshua probably felt very smallish and impossibly under-qualified. The only way he would take the job is if he knew for certain that almighty God was with him.
But this could not be left to his feelings or perceptions alone. After all, God is a spirit and you don’t feel a spirit’s presence in the same way that you feel another body in the room or in the car with you. While God had repeatedly made His presence known by daily provisions and many answers to prayer, still He wasn’t standing in front of Joshua giving him a reassuring hug.
Joshua would need something else to go on. And so do we.
“Be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I sword to give them. I will be with you.”Deuteronomy 31:23
As valid as our feelings and perceptions are, they are limited. Our radar isn’t 100% accurate. God has given us the capacity to feel, but more importantly He has also given us the ability to know. Despite what we feel or don’t feel today, we can know that God is with us based on what He has said to us in His word.
It’s great when we feel the presence of God, but on those days when we don’t feel Him, it doesn’t change the fact of His presence. From the moment you called upon Jesus to save you, He came to you as promised and He refuses to leave (Romans 10:9-13; Hebrews 13:5).
For Joshua, the difference between cowardice and courage was these five words:
I WILL BE WITH YOU.
When he didn’t feel God’s presence, all Joshua needed to do was re-visit this promise. And praise Jesus, we can do the same.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.