When my friend was just a baby, her mother walked out of their apartment to begin a “new life” without her. Left totally vulnerable and abandoned by the one who should care for her more than any other, she was alone for hours in a crib, crying out for help with no one there. Thankfully, the apartment manager eventually heard her cries and broke in to rescue her. It leaves me cold and aching to think of her crying out for a mother who no longer cared for her.
How could a mother walk away like that? But moms do. Husbands do. Friends do.
No matter how people have let you down, no matter how much you’ve suffered from rejection, even abandonment, if you belong to Christ, you have this secure promise from Him:
“I will not abandon you.”
In Deuteronomy chapter four, we see one of the most precious qualities of God’s character. This quality shines through even as He delivers a sober warning to His people. He warns them (and ultimately us) to “be careful” to “watch themselves” and to “keep their soul diligently” to protect their hearts from wandering away to follow after the false gods that other nations worshiped. God graciously warns of the soul destruction that will bring.
But included in this warning is an incredible promise:
He, Himself, the God that created everything they can see and experience, is committed to being “with” those who belong to Him.
[box]“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7)[/box]
There is no other like our God. He is near, not cold and distant. The only true and living God has chosen us and has come to abide with us!
In July, I shared with you that this year especially, there are “Four Graces That Have Carried Me” and told you that I’d send you a post, as I could, on those four.
If you missed those posts and want to read about the first three graces, you can find them by clicking on the words below: Purpose, Providence, and Promise.
The final grace I want to highlight is: Presence.
- Presence: The abiding and tangible fellowship with the Triune God. It is an awareness that God is very much “other” but has chosen to be very much “here” in the midst of our lives. Immanuel: God with us.
The tangible presence of God is what provides me with security and peace as we walk through the daily challenges of a life-altering, long-term illness. My husband’s losses and pain threaten to sink us into despair on some days, and we would surely drown in it, except for the abiding presence of Christ.
He promised that He would not abandon us—and He hasn’t.
The Israelites received this promise early in their relationship with God:
[box]“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath” (Deuteronomy 4:31).[/box]
One of my most favorite things about God’s character is this unrelenting commitment to us. And He backs up that commitment with the evidence of His abiding presence. It is a deep knowing and awareness that He is there that holds you when the tidal waves of calamities hit. It is the calming presence of Christ that can carry you through the most difficult day, but can also explode within you in joy at the most unexpected moments.
The presence of God with His people threads its way through Old Testament history and then shows up dramatically in the New Testament as God in flesh, Jesus Christ, comes to walk among men. And now, the presence of God continues to dwell with us in the form of the Holy Spirit:
[box]“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).[/box]
He “bears witness” and abides with us. Jesus used the vine metaphor when He described this supernatural reality to the disciples:
[box]”Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5).[/box]
God promises that He will never leave us, never forsake, or abandon His own. LeRoy and I are experiencing the reality of that daily.
From the very beginning of this journey, on the weekend that the paralysis began setting in and LeRoy lost his ability to use his left leg, the Spirit so clearly impressed on me this assurance from His Word:
“I will not abandon you.”
And He continues to reassure us of this truth. On my bathroom counter sits another reminder. Almost a year ago, I wrote out these words on a page from a little yellow note pad:
[box]The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)[/box]
He will not forsake the work of His hands. He does not abandon His own. He will never leave us or remove His Spirit from us.
You may be very lonely today, may have lost family or friends, but if you belong to God, you are not alone.
Dear Friends, your prayers are a tangible means of God’s grace in our lives. If you are new to the blog, and unaware of what we’re walking through and how we need your prayers, I hope you’ll read this post from the archives. Even though I’m unable to respond to your comments, I do read every one. For those who share prayer needs, I lift those to the Father and am so grateful to be entrusted with your prayer request. I love to hear from you, so please continue to leave your comments knowing that they matter!