Love it or hate it, the “reality” TV show – “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” has announced that it is planning to go ahead this autumn despite current travel restrictions. Since they couldn’t take the latest group of celebrities to an unfriendly and dangerous environment filled with strange and disgusting foods, they have decided instead to bring them to… Wales!

Yes, that’s right – I’m not really sure if we should take it as a compliment – but the next best “stress zone” that producers felt the contestants (who are usually more used to a first class kind of lifestyle) should be subjected to is Gwrych Castle in Colwyn Bay, North Wales!

The twist is that local legend has it that the C14th Castle is supposedly haunted by a “headless creature”, and milking the life out of that myth will undoubtedly be the source of creepiness seeing as the usual creepy crawlies are off the menu for now.

 

But in 2020, you don’t have to lost in a jungle or locked in a castle to be the only one crying out “Get me out of here!” With the rapid spread of the local lockdown net, we are beginning to feel the effects of the early stages of this second wave.

And there’s no denying it, it is hard – it’s hard to understand it all, it’s hard to accept it, it’s hard to endure, and it’s hard to know what is the best and right thing to do.

 

In the Bible one person who cried out “Get me out of here!” on more than one occasion was the reluctant freedom fighter and shy leader: Moses. (By the way, if you missed it our holiday club style “Camp Freedom” videos this summer followed part of his own journey – you can check them out here for more!)

There’s a passage in Exodus 33, that is one of those places where God has spoken to me again and again through the course of my life – and especially at those times when I have been crying out: “Get me out of here.”

 

The Space-In-between 

Moses has been leading the people out from Egyptian rule and a life of slavery towards the land of promise – but the space-in-between is wilderness; vast, hot, empty, exposed, unknown wilderness.

The Lord has told Moses that the people have become so stiff-necked in their rebellion against His ways and hardhearted in their rejection of Him, that it would be better to part company now; that they were to journey on without the Lord so that they didn’t risk His righteous judgement on their lives (aren’t you glad we live in New Testament times and that Jesus has already paid the price for the sin in our lives?).

 

Moses is just heartbroken by this revelation – and cannot imagine life without God in it. Moses concludes that he would rather die out in the wilderness (along with the rest of the nation) than take another step, even towards the Promised Land, if God was not going to be with them.

He lays out the agony of journeying through the space-in-between:

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You have said, ‘I know You by name and You have found favor with me.’ If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that this nation is Your people!”

EXODUS 33.12-13

You can hear his pain can’t you?

This is Your people, God, not mine! This is Your mission, God, not mine! This was Your idea, not mine.

Moses is asking for details (“Who are going to send with me?”), directions (“Teach me Your ways!”) and a sense of divine approval (“Are you pleased with me?”).

But what God gives Him in this moment is much deeper than those things. It’s a promise – but not of His Plans, simply of His Presence. As Moses stands in the tent of meeting, with the pillar of cloud just outside the entrance, he hears again the Voice of the Lord:

The Lord replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

EXODUS 33.14

In the lonely place Moses found himself in, what He needed most was a friend – to know again what we all need to know at times, that we are not alone.

See in Moses’ desperate demands for details, directions, and approval – God’s reply speaks to His deepest need: “I’ll give you more that Moses, I’ll give you – me.” I will go with you.

 

It’s interesting to me that Moses hadn’t asked God for rest… I don’t know if you’ve ever had the situation where you’ve gone to God with something to talk about – but He wants to talk about something else! Often I go to God with my wants, but always replies with my needs.

What God was teaching Moses in the space in between the Promise and the Promise Land, in between the stepping-out-of and the stepping-in-to,… is something the Lord has been speaking to me about for many years: “seek my presence before my plans.” To learn to love Him for who He is, before we love Him for what He has done or is about to do.

See, God knew that what Moses needed most was His Presence in the space-in-between. And actually, God knows that that is all that we need – He existed without anything but Himself before the creation of the world. Before there was anything, there was beautiful Divine community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit whose pure essence is love; a brilliant eternal bliss, the triune dance of glory and love!

And, in a stunning mystery of pure grace, what we are invited into, in Jesus, is precisely that:

Remember Jesus’ prayer for the church down the ages to come:

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

JOHN 17.20-21

The early church knew this reality too, and extended the invitation to a lost world:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

1 JOHN 1.3

 

See, God knows that what we need in the hard and painful space-in-between, deeper than all that we think we need – is simply Himself. Seek His Presence before His Plans – and… and(!) you’ll get the added bonus of rest as a by-product thrown in for good measure too. Who couldn’t use some rest right now?

What if, in the difficult space-in-between that we find ourselves in today, and whatever different challenges that bring us – as we cry out: “Get me out of here!” God’s reply to us just might be: “I will come to you there, and I will give you everything is it that I know that you need as you come to rest and trust in me,”

 

Spend some time in this promise today, why not chew on it, word by word, and let this promise feed your soul:

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

 

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