As a young Christian, I grew to love so-called “sacred spaces.” I anticipated God’s presence inside prayer rooms, retreat centers, and stained-glass cathedrals. Conversely, God’s tendency to reveal Himself at the most unexpected (and inconvenient) times could make me uncomfortable.
In Exodus 3, Moses finds himself in the wilderness—a location known throughout the Bible as a place of desperation, wandering, evil, and even death. In fact, Moses led his flock to the “far side” of the wilderness to a place called Horeb, which literally means “wasteland.” If ever a place deserved to be called godforsaken, Horeb seems to fit the bill! Yet unbeknownst to Moses, he stands on the Mountain of God, where he will have more than one life-changing encounter with the God of Israel.
When God speaks through the burning bush, Moses is surprised to find God accompanying him beyond the walls of convenient and well-marked “sacred spaces.” God instructs Moses to go to another seemingly godless place: the chambers of Egypt’s great and powerful Pharaoh. Moses feels overwhelmed and underqualified, but he will not have to go alone. God Himself will accompany Moses and guarantee his mission’s success. God promises Moses that he will one day worship on this very mountain, with all God’s people free and by his side.
This Advent season, remember that the very place that seems godless or godforsaken may be just where God shows up. “God with us” is not just a name but a reminder that God’s presence goes with us into and beyond the wilderness. Let us not eschew the profane, the mundane, or the wilderness journey, but instead let us watch and wait expectantly to find God’s presence accompanying us through it.
God, attune us to Your presence. Teach us that no place or person is beyond Your reach. Thank You that You accompany us into the wilderness and beyond. Give us courage to go where You direct us, knowing that we never walk alone.
by Luke Harbaugh, HOPE church representative