Powerful One, You alone can drive all my fears away. Remind me through my doubts and misgivings that You still care about me.
Read NEHEMIAH 8:13–18
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Hope in the God of all our tomorrows provides optimism for the future and gives strength for today” (Haddon W. Robinson).
“Come outside. Let’s sit in our Sukkoth. Keep your coats on.” We entered a tent covered outside with branches and decorated inside with fairy lights. “This week we spend as much time here as we can,” our Jewish friends explained. “The kids love it.” Their joy in the family enactment of the ancient Feast of Booths was almost enough to stop us shivering on this autumn evening.
In a world where words are many and cheap, there is something very powerful about acting out our faith. The Judeans have been preoccupied with constructing walls and building a community. Now the physical act of setting up tents by their family homes, in their courtyards where they socialize, by God’s house where they worship and in the places of business and travel is a heartfelt celebration of their identity. It takes them back to their ancestors’ experience, living in fragile tents in a dangerous wilderness as they sought the Promised Land. It calls them to gratitude for God’s faithfulness: now they are gathered in that land, once again returned from exile. It reminds them that obedience to his commands and trust in his provision are more important than bricks and mortar. It proclaims to the nations the joy of knowing they are part of a story where God takes his people on a journey of risk and adventure.
It is easy to become so settled in our lives, thinking insurance keeps every risk at bay, that we get spiritually stuck and complacent. As children and artists show us, there is great value in seeing and doing and feeling as well as hearing and reasoning. As we sense the fragility of personal and community edifices, our response can only be to thank God afresh for his care and throw ourselves on him for all our unknowns.
“Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). Align your priorities.
Gracious Lord, forgive me for choosing safety over Your call, security rather than obedience to You.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.