Sunday, April 3, 2011

The angel of His presence

In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. – Isaiah 63:9 (NIV)
A woman recently approached my pastor’s wife. “I have such a burden for you,” she said, “you being a pastor’s wife and all.”
Jolanda didn’t understand at first. As she related the story to me, she said, “I’ve been a pastor’s wife for more than 25 years, and I have never felt a burden because of it. In fact, over the years, other people have told me they had a burden for me.”
Her eyes lit up. “I get it now. I never felt the burden because other people were carrying it for me!”
With all their ministry and family responsibilities, with all that’s expected of them, living their lives within “walls of glass,” my pastor and his wife—with their three sons—have fulfilled their responsibilities over and above the so-called requirements. They are a godly couple who set an example on how to live the Christian life, how to balance life’s responsibilities, and how to not only “keep the faith,” but grow in it. Now I know why:  God has appointed others to help carry the burden of shepherding and feeding God’s people and to hold them up in prayer.
When the Israelites were engaged in a fierce battle with the Amalekites on the way to the Promised Land, Moses stood with Aaron and Hur on the top of a hill overlooking the fight. As long as his arms were raised, the Israelites were winning. But when his arms grew tired and fell, the tide turned. So Aaron and Hur had Moses sit on a rock, and then they each held up Moses’ arms. The Israelites won. That day Aaron and Hur were the “angels of His presence” for Moses, just as Moses was the “angel of His presence” for the men fighting the battle.
That’s what the church is all about—holding up each others’ arms when they are too weak and weary, carrying each other’s burdens, standing in the gap and praying when someone is too sick or too busy or too down to pray. A church isn’t a building; it’s a body. I like how one man put it: “I don’t just go to church. I am the church.”
Just as God carried the Israelites across the wilderness, so we are to carry one another. Have you ever felt burdened for someone, even when, by all outward appearances, everything seemed fine? Has someone’s name ever popped into your mind at odd moments? Have you ever awoken from a sound sleep with the urge to pray for someone in particular? That’s God’s Holy Spirit calling you to be the “angel of His presence” for someone else.
Thank you, Lord, for the people who have carried my burdens, prayed for me, and been the “angel of Your presence” in my life. Help me to be an angel of Your presence for someone today. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Exodus 17:8-13

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