Advent Devotional December 11
Scripture: Exodus 33:13
Overwhelmed. We all know this feeling. A few definitions include, “to bury or drown beneath a huge mass, defeat completely, give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.”
This used to be my constant state of being. The weighted feeling of life, the persistent pressure. The inundation of it all, oftentimes pressing down so intensely it was difficult to breathe. Maybe you can relate?
As a child, life came at my family pretty fast and heavy. I quickly learned to sift through it, manage it, and tuck it away. As I became an adult, being overwhelmed was a part of my every day. I had learned how to cope through the feeling. I knew what to do and became my own coach when needed.
If my heart was overwhelmed, I suppressed the feeling – because who has time to deal with a defeated heart? If my mind was overwhelmed, I made myself busy. If I could just forget why I was overwhelmed, ignore it somehow, it would be fine. I ended up adding on to my overwhelmed mind and heart with more doing.
If I were physically overwhelmed with the doing, I would just tell myself it was a part of life to feel this way. I would excuse this feeling as part of my responsibility as someone who gets things done. It was a vicious cycle of coping. All of this was a sign of an overwhelmed soul in deep need of a loving God.
In the midst of one of my most challenging seasons, I learned His overwhelming presence was where my weary soul would find refuge and rest. With Emmanuel, God with us, I would encounter the peace and wisdom a tired soul required.
The most common Hebrew term for “presence” in the Bible is panim, which is also translated “to face,” implying a close and personal encounter with the Lord. Closeness with the Father…a face-to-face encounter with the King of kings that brought His overwhelming love to an underwhelmed people.
I used to believe His presence wasn’t an ever-present help. That rest wasn’t something promised in our day-to-day. This may be how you’ve felt as well – that His presence isn’t tangible and therefore out of reach when life seems out-of-control. But His presence is real, and we experience it through our trusting that He is a good God, that He is God with us.
In the Old Testament, God told Moses His presence would be with Moses as he was sent into a mission that was hard but holy: “And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14).
Moses was to find his rest in God’s presence. This is where his overwhelmed soul met God’s overwhelming love and faithfulness. The same presence is given to us through Christ Jesus – He gives us access to abundant life through trusting and resting in His love for us.
A desire to rely on our doing versus God’s faithfulness will diminish our experience of God’s presence. I truly believe that God doesn’t want us to live led by the rush of life. Instead, He’s inviting us to trust in His overwhelming presence to guide us.
As we move through our day and invite Him into the spaces that need Him so desperately, let us remember that as we draw near to our God, we are inviting His presence to guide us with love.
This is abundant life: God with us, a mighty and overwhelming presence.
Gracious Father, thank You that Your overwhelming presence of love not only follows us but is with us. Lord, we ask that in the times when life tries to overwhelm us, we would be reminded that You, Father, are the very thing that brings light and calm to the dark and heavy. Help us to remember that Your presence holds the power for us to keep going, and we trust You in it. In Your Name, Amen.
Extra Truth for your Day:
Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”
Psalm 16:11, “You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence in abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.”
Coordinator of Connecting and Serving Ministries