My heart ached at the thought of it. God couldn’t possibly be calling us to leave our church of 17 years. All our friends were there. We did a lot of life together – Bible studies, mission trips, Sunday School. We held each other up during seasons of devastating loss – parents, babies, divorce, illness. We celebrated graduations and weddings of our children. This was the only church family we had ever known since we moved here. It was our community.
One Sunday, we found ourselves visiting a different church. It was something we did on occasion with no expectation of finding a new place to worship. We were immediately impressed by the size and organization of this church. But it was the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit during worship that touched me profoundly. We felt drawn to go back.
The idea of attending this church was exciting but I felt very conflicted. I didn’t want to chase after the shiny, flashy things of this world, even if that shiny thing was a church. Not wanting to make an impulsive decision, we attended services at both churches for months. We prayed fervently and asked God for wisdom and discernment. Each week, I repeatedly asked God to close the door if He did not want us to leave.
It was a strange and confusing time. We didn’t know anyone at this new church. Yet, every time we went to worship there, it felt like home.
When the time came, we both knew.
How do we tell our friends? God led us to our old church and we accepted Christ there. Many have encouraged us and have been an integral part of our spiritual journey. Would they be disappointed with us? The thought of hurting any of them was heartrending.
When it was time to share our news, one of the young girls in the small group I helped lead had a very mature response. Through her sweet tears she said, “I am very sad but I want you to follow God.”
In Exodus 33, God tells Moses that He is going to send an angel to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. He was keeping His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The catch is He is not going with them because they had sinned against Him by worshipping a golden calf. But Moses’ response to God is simple, “If You are not going, we are not going.”
“If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.” ~ Exodus 33:15
What if God gave us the same offer today? You can have your promised land. Everything you’ve ever dreamed about – the ideal job, the perfect spouse, well-behaved children, a house out of the pages of a magazine, even deep friendships, but He will not be with you.
Would we choose His Presence over the promises of this world?
I wish I could definitively say that I have always prayed and asked for God’s guidance with every decision I’ve made, no matter how big or small. Most times, I make a decision and then ask God to bless it.
I often forget that He has wonderful plans for us, beyond our greatest imagination.
What if we were willing to follow Him, no matter what He asks us to surrender?
On our last Sunday at church, I knew the good-byes would be hard. Glancing around at the many kind faces, I could barely mouth the words to Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Will Follow You”.
Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I’ll love
How you serve I’ll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you
Open our hands and release the one thing we are firmly holding onto.
Only then can we grasp the extraordinary blessings He has divinely planned for us.
Only then can we freely follow Him to our promised land.
Ultimately, true intimacy with God is only found in the pursuit of His Presence.
What are you doing to pursue Him these days?
Latest posts by Mei L. Au (see all)
- The Pursuit of His Presence – Are we willing to pursue him no matter the cost? - March 21, 2017
- Watershed Moments of Our Lives - November 22, 2016
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