Read Exodus 3:1-16; Esther 4:1-17
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20, NRSV)
Let’s start with a story. There once was a man, let’s call him Joe, who seemed to have an unwavering faith in God and the power of miracles. One day, a major storm hit that dumped a ton of rain onto the region that Joe lived in. The rain just kept pouring down and pouring down, but Joe knew he would be alright. “God will deliver me from this storm,” he thought to himself.
Across the TV splashed all sorts of warnings about the severity of the storm and that the residents should evacuate and get to higher ground. Joe wasn’t going anywhere because he knew, “God will deliver me from this storm.” The power went out, the rain kept pouring and the water levels kept rising. Joe walked out on his porch and saw an emergency truck heading his way. It was large enough to make it through the rapidly rising water. They stopped and told Joe, “Get in, your life is in danger!” Joe refused and said, “God will deliver me from this storm.”
The water kept rising and then Joe ended up having to get up to the upper level of his house. He opened his bedroom window and he saw a boat coming his way. The people in the boat said, “Give us a second and we’ll row over there and rescue you.” But Joe refused, saying, “God will deliver me from this storm.” The rain kept pouring and Joe ended up out on his roof. A helicopter was hovering above and one of the people in the chopper was going to lower a ladder down to Joe; however, Joe refused the ladder saying, “God will deliver me from this storm.”
To make a long story short, Joe drowned and went to heaven. Upon seeing God, Joe asked, “Lord, why did you allow me to drown. I had such an unwaivering faith that you would deliver me; yet, you failed to come and deliver me from the storm.” God looked at Joe and said to him, “Son, I sent you TV warnings, an emergency truck, a boat and a helicopter! What more did you want me to do?”
This is not a new story and it is quite possible you have heard it before. What is awesome about it is that it points us to really question what we consider to be miracles, and what we consider to be the presence of God. We are often too busy looking for people walking on water, changing the water into wine, and raising the dead to notice the truly miraculous things in our lives. Using the story above, which would be the greater miracle: God snapping his fingers and Joe teleporting to dry land, or the fact that 3 different people saw his need and attempted to help him?
And that brings up another point: what are we looking for when we ask to be in God’s presence? What are we expecting? When we look in the Bible, when we look past the grandiose stories of burning bushes, and earthquakes and water walking, we will actually see God’s presence in other people. In the story of Exodus, God did not rescue the Israelites by showing up as a fierce warrior floating in the sky with fiery eyes and a bolt of lightning in his hands. Rather, God showed up in a stuttering shepherd named Moses who, after much reluctance, found the courage enough to demand of Pharoah that he let God’s people go. God did not rescue his people from the Persians by hurling fire and brimstone down, but through an insecure harem slave-girl named Esther who dared to enter the court of the Persian King, uninvited, and demand that justice be done.
The presence of God is in each of us and it is up to us to be the presence of God in the lives of others. And no doubt, God has been present in our lives through others as well. Rather than looking for grandiose “miracles” that may or may not come, let us recognize the miracles that have come, especially the miracle of presence. God was present to his people through other people. In fact, isn’t that what we celebrate in the birth of Christ: God’s presence among us…in another human being? And if the risen Christ lives in us, through us and in spite of us, then truly we are called to be the presence of God, through Jesus Christ, in the lives of others.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Praise God for those who have been present in your life. Be present in the lives of others.
Lord, what is it you would like me to do today? Who is it that you would like me to be present with? Be present through me in the lives of others. Amen.