Devotional of the week – God before us; God behind us

This new devotional series we’ll be focusing on how Christ lives at the center of his followers, dwelling in their hearts. This idea pervades the Scriptures, found not only in the New Testament but also in the Old. I hope these readings will be a prompt for us to consider the adventure of union with our God who created us, loves us, and lives in us.

5546445177_3251db342c_zBut you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:1–12

We landed at Heathrow and finally squeezed our luggage in the car, having upgraded to a bigger vehicle. Newly married to my English beau, I was a fresh immigrant to the UK. As we drove northeast to Cambridge, I was dazed with jetlag and with the thought that this was now my home. I was excited but nervous.

Driving on what seemed like the wrong side of the road, I wondered what I had signed up to. As I began to fret about the unknown, however, I felt God’s promise that he would never leave me, and the words from Ruth flashed into my mind, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (1:16). This I had promised to my husband in our marriage vows, and this I would live out with God’s help.

God’s promises of never leaving us are reflected in today’s passage from Isaiah; verse 12 in particular illustrates the safety and security we have in him. He goes before us and follows behind us; he hems us in and places his everlasting arms underneath us. He redeems us from our fears and sins, even as he saved Israel from her attackers. The Israelites didn’t even have to flee in the night, for the Lord protected them so completely.

This lovely Old Testament promise of God going before and after us foreshadows the mystery of God living in us, which came with the incarnation – the birth of his son Jesus. When we’re facing a situation where we feel out of our depth, as I did when leaving the States, we can rest assured in the knowledge that God is paving our way even as he follows us up.

Prayer: Lord, you hem me in behind and before; you lay your hand on me. Wherever I go, I am safe in your arms (after Psalm 139:5).

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