This week I had to teach in a remote location early in the morning. I started my car in the chilly fall air and I left my house before sun-up. With each mile, there were less gas stations and drive-thru lines at fast food joints as I ventured further into blackness with headlights as the only form of illumination.
A dash warning light began to blink rapidly.
Such a small light, but it was so bright in the black! Oh, no! Is that the low tire pressure warning? Do I have a flat? Is the air low? I mentally reviewed my busy day. I had back-to-back events and people waiting for me at each one. I started to imagine what it would be like to be stranded on the back roads alone.
I wasn’t panicking, but I was alert.
After quick calls to both hubby and son to let them know, I was comforted by the presence of a AAA card in my wallet.
But that light sure looked bright in the dark.
As I continued peering through the windshield to keep track of the dim edges of the road, I prayed with some desperation, “Lord, breathe your breath into my tires; just breathe all the air they need into them until I reach safety. Amen.”
When I looked down again seconds later, the light was off!
I laughed. I laughed loudly and with hilarity. Sounds of joy bubbled from my lungs. I cackled, belly-laughed and yelled with glee several times, “Lord, I love you!”
I felt safe. I was safe.
My joy and sense of safety had nothing to do with the possibility that I might get a flat tire soon, or have to call AAA while I waited in the dark, or miss one or more of my obligations.
I was safe because God was with me.
God was with me in the car on the road in the dark, and His breath had just filled my tires. I can’t remember the last time I was as delighted just being in His presence. It was just God and me, laughing. Rejoicing. Traveling together. It was a beautiful thing.
God is near to each of us.
The Old Testament takes up 2/3’s of our bible and is comprised of a holy God staying as close to us as possible before Jesus arrived. When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, for example, God traveled with them in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He fed them manna every day. Their shoes and clothes never wore out.
In other words, they never were stranded.
God was there all along, remaining as close as He could. But without a mediator to die for our sin, our holy God could only get so close to the masses.
Behind the veil
In the tabernacle that traveled with the Israelites — and in the temple built later — God’s presence existed in the Most Holy Place. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place behind the veil once a year to stand before God to make atonement for himself and the people for all the sins committed during the year just ended.
That veil no longer exists.
When Jesus took His last breath on the cross for our sins, the veil immediately torn in two: Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27: 50-51a)
Now our high priest isn’t a man like you and me. Now our high priest is Jesus Christ and He is on duty 24/7 offering full access to God at all times. The tabernacle that was physical in the Old Testament is now our spiritual reality, and it is just as concrete as the first! Through His Son Jesus Christ, we can waltz confidently right into the throne room of God our Father and pour out our hearts to the One who created the universe with words of power.
When we pray, we are entering the Most Holy Place.
God is near. Even in the dark. Even alone. Even in an older car. Even with dash lights flashing. Even when people are depending on us to show up.
…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:12
Picture Explanation: Our family got to be together last weekend to celebrate our daughters completing another year of life. My heart was filled with delight watching a son-in-law fly fish and build us the best fires outside near the water and in the fireplace. It didn’t hurt that the Braves played well each night on their way to a World Series title, either. Naps, favorite childhood foods – mom’s sloppy joes and dad’s ribs and Aunt Gail’s brownies – were food for the soul. A good time was had by all.
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