15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
If there’s a verse that aptly depicts my life (or that I’d like to depict my life) right now, it’s the one listed above. I meditated on this passage back when I first came to Asia in May, and time and again we’ve come back to this verse as we ponder our future together. Tina and I have abdicated whatever sense of control we thought we had to say, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
Tina could also confirm that I’ve made spreadsheets charting our course over the next 3-5 years, complete with budgets, kids, church plans, and predictions on whether or not the NBA and NFL seasons will be canceled.
While such rigorous planning might be commended by some, it must be somewhat laughable to God, sitting on the throne, holding the entire universe together by his fingertips.
One of the great gifts of being in Seoul has been reconnecting with different people, and one such person whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting with is Andre Ashby, an old friend and mentor who has spent some time in South Korea ministering in different congregations by singing, preaching, and prophetic ministry.
Andre was the first to reintroduce me to the power of the Spirit when I first moved to NYC in 2001, and I remember we’d have long, late night talks about the ways God moves with his Manifest Presence.
As a wide-eyed (this is a euphemism, as you might already know when you’ve seen pictures of my eyes) 21 year-old, I soaked in every conversation, especially as that year proved to be one of the most life-transforming times of my life (I was also introduced to EHS that year).
Being with Andre in Seoul reminded me of the same earnestness and zeal I had back then, a keen hunger for wherever there were signs of life, or in biblical terms, the moving of the Spirit.
Last night Tina and I went to Young Dong First Church of Seoul where Andre was ministering, and the experience was so reminiscent of so many times that God has “showed up” in my life.
Now, this is not to discount the omnipresent attribute of God – this is simply to talk about when the Manifest Presence of God comes in tangible, dynamic ways on special occasions (for all the Non-Christians reading this, I’m simply referring to when some crazy supernatural things happen – if you don’t believe me, I’d love for you to come and see for yourself sometime!).
Truth be told, Tina and I showed up for the meeting rather late. We initially arrived early but we were both famished and needed to eat before the session. So we wandered off into the neighborhood and found a delicious “bossam” restaurant. We ended up walking through the doors of the main hall around 8:45 (the meeting started at 7 pm), right as Andre called up a couple of people to give them prophetic words.
I thought the meeting was going to be comprised of more singing and prophetic words thereafter, but Andre went straight into preacher mode.
He spoke of the life-changing power of God, and how the world is hungry for something more real and revolutionary than sitting and standing in a building, singing some songs, and hearing some inspirational words.
He proceeded to go through passage after passage about how God’s presence always brings about a significant work – time and time again when the Spirit moves, mountains turn, skies are opened, and dry bones live.
And which passage did Andre end with?
Moses, the humblest man on the earth who experienced God’s power and presence in the most unique of ways, says (to paraphrase) “I want more of your presence, not less! Without your presence, I am nothing”! Or better yet, we are nothing.
“When was the last time you had the same earnest hunger for God’s presence?” Andre asked.
“We are to be people who want God’s presence more than anything else. We are to be people who need God’s presence more than anything else.”
Andre began to sing. The people began to arise. Hands were lifted and the room began to stir.
Meanwhile, I sat down, buried my face in my hands, repented for I’m not sure what, and cried out to God.
What if we all lived with this verse at the forefront of our lives?
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
What if our relationships were led by this statement?
Our Personal Choices?
How would our lives – and our world – look different?
I realize there have been several things I’ve had to die to so that I can essentially say, “God your will, and not mine. I only want to go where you are leading.”
– I’ve had to die to my want for comfort.
– I’ve had to die to my want for prestige.
– I’ve had to die to my want for control and predictability.
– I’ve had to die to my attachments in NYC.
And underneath the dying is the earnest hunger to be wherever God wants us to be.
And the most challenging of all has not been dying to the “bad” things, I’ve noticed, it’s actually the “good” things. My hopes for security for my family, my wishes to do extraordinary things with my life… it’s these “good” things that God is purging out of me at the moment.
And in the end, it’s one of the most painful, yet liberating prayers to say to God, “I will die to everything to follow you, because quite simply, I only want to be where you are.”
9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the LORD establishes their steps.
INTERVIEWER: Bono, where do you attend church?
BONO: I go wherever there’s life…
– From an Interview at the Global Leadership Summit 2009