In Exodus 33, Moses is given a unique choice. Moses was offered everything he could ever want or need, but only on the condition that he would journey without the manifest presence of God. God would give His protection, provision, manna, water from a rock, quail for dinner, health, clothes that didn’t wear out, and His instructions to keep them living well and out of trouble. He would even get them to their final destination—the Promised Land, their new home for which they had prayed for 400 years. Everything!
It sounds like the deal of a lifetime. But the cost? The Israelites would go alone, without the presence of God.
Would you take that deal? To never get sick or injured. No more bills to pay. A beautiful house. The dream job. The perfect spouse. If we are truly honest, how often do we pray for these things—without saying, “Lord, I just want to be in Your presence.”
Moses turned it all down. He said, “It’s not enough. Show me your glory.”
Why is the presence of God so essential, so valuable to us? Why was it so valuable to Moses that he would give up the deal of a lifetime to get it? I’ll share a few verses:
- In His presence is FULLNESS OF JOY. “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 (NLT)
- In His presence is PROTECTION. “You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.” – Psalm 31:20 (NLT)
- His presence is LIFE CHANGING. “The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.” – Psalm 97:5 (NLT) The hills melt like wax before God. Sometimes we are so stubborn, but His presence can melt the most stubborn heart. That is life changing.
- His presence is ENRICHING. It is like a breath of fresh air to the person who is drowning. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” – Acts 3:19 (NIV)
One of the fondest memories I have of my mother was her beautiful singing voice and her sense of humor. After my dad died, I was left as my mom’s primary caretaker. She developed emphysema not long before she died, and breathing became a major struggle. She stopped singing, and it hurt to laugh. My mom had everything. My dad had left plenty of money in the bank, so all of her needs were taken care of. But what she wouldn’t give to just take one deep breath—to sing again, to laugh again.
Take a deep breath. What if you could no longer do that?
When Peter said, “that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” he used a Greek word that we translate as “refreshing” which literally means to “take a deep breath” or to have “space to breathe.”
How many of us go through life asking for and receiving the good things in life—wealth, success, good health—but our spiritual life is like the person with emphysema? Never actually taking a deep breath in the presence of God.
Today God says come as you are, let go of everything—money, your need for security, everything—and surrender it to Him. Seek His presence. He promises that He will pour out His Spirit, the life-giving breath of God, His presence, His glory…and you will never be the same again. And that, my brothers and sisters, is the deal of a lifetime.
This devotional was adapted from a sermon preached by Ernest Hernandez, director of Office of Volunteer Ministries, at the “I Will Go” Conference in South American Division in Sept. 2019.