“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psa. 139:7).
I am currently sitting in my hotel room near the Atlanta airport, here for a Great Commission Publications (GCP) board meeting. I cannot begin to express to you what a joy it is for me to serve on this board. GCP is jointly owned by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America, providing Sunday school and discipleship materials for the church. But as thrilling as this is for me usually, there is an added relief that I am having.
For the first time in 26 days, I am not being bombarded by the present realities that we are all experiencing following the devastation of Hurricane Ian. There is no unpleasant wafting of rotting vegetation and roof debris in the air; the streets are navigable, with clearly marked street signs, and to my knowledge, no roof tacks strewn across the roads. Yes, I have already found one of them; or, I should say, one of my tires has already found one!
As I drove up to the airport in Sarasota this morning at 4 a.m., I was contemplating what my motivations were as I went. Yes, I had a meeting to attend, but there was so much more going on in my head. For a moment, the thought came to me: “Am I running away from the trouble that surrounds me?” I had even tried to get a flight yesterday to extend my time away by one night, though it would have meant flying from Sarasota to Dallas to Atlanta, which didn’t seem all that appealing. So, I passed.
Somehow, I don’t think I’m alone in my desire to “get the heck out of here!” I’m certain that some of you have been thinking this, and others of you have expressed it to me. Most of us have found these last 26 days to be physically exhausting and emotionally wearying. I know I’ve hit the proverbial brick wall so many times the past few weeks.
But all of that got me thinking this morning about Psalm 139. David begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” This thought leaves David breathless. He says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
Certainly, we have come to understand Deuteronomy 29:29 a little better this past month. “The secret things belong to the Lord God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law.” The thought of God’s greatness overwhelms David as he meditates upon them, but he also finds great comfort, knowing that God is so great! So, he can express the verse I began with: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”
Even when we contemplate running away, the Lord surely goes with us. He We certainly don’t have to endure these days alone. Indeed, we can’t endure these days alone. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:17-18).
Jesus is not just Emmanuel during the Christmas season. He truly is “God with us” now and into eternity. Wherever you find yourself today, whether slogging through the literal or metaphorical muck and mire of life, or running away from it all, let us remember the blessed promise of the gospel: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).
May you all rest in the goodness, mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.