“If the Lord sees fit, he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle again” (2 Sam 15:25 NLT). This was a verse my pastor shared with me today. We’d been talking about the future, fears, and trusting in God (among other things). He was telling me the story of David and Absalom, when Absalom attempted to take over the kingdom and drove his father from Jerusalem.
In the midst of great uncertainty, King David tells his men that if he should find favor in the eyes of God, God will surely bring him back to Jerusalem—to the house of God to worship him. This is an incredible statement! Leaving his future in the hands of a sovereign God, David surrenders any plans and hopes of even coming back to his homeland. And considering the context where this story takes place, it would surely have been a bitter thing to realize that you could be separated from the Tabernacle forever. This was the physical place where God’s Spirit dwelt among his people, and what a grievous sorrow to be separated from this—the most tangible presence of God.
These words of David sound almost matter-of-fact and nearly emotionless. But these are not the words of a man who just didn’t care whether he left or stayed. No, on the contrary, it all but broke his heart to leave. A couple verses after this statement, it says that “David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered” (v. 30 ESV). He felt this pain and rejection, acutely, and it moved him to deep mourning.
For many of us, we are in similar situations. We are uncertain about what the future will bring, and this is a cause for great sorrow. Perhaps some fear is stirred in too. My own story is concerned with staying when several pieces of my heart would rather leave. There is a great longing to go, be, do something different. (And finally, finally be finished with Minnesota winters!) But I do not know if God will see fit to move me away from this present place anytime soon.
I was talking to one of my sisters the other day and mentioned that I have no idea if I will ever be a missionary, if I will even do anything “important” like that, ever even leave where I am right now. And I have to face the fact that God may ask me to stay here for another season or two—or more. Being a missionary may not even be his ultimate plan for my life. He may be calling me to plough another row in this field, plant seeds and stick around to see them sprout, or go the second mile on a journey that has taken me places I never would have chosen for myself.
Surrender to a God who is all-knowing, all-consuming, all-loving. He is not confined to the four walls of a tent. No, his dwelling is with his people—us. His Spirit lives in us! Whether we leave or stay, he will never leave us. We can never be separated from him. There is no place that he is not already there. Our lives are in his strong, tender, sovereign hands. Safe.
He is a good God. He can be trusted with our leaving or staying. And he can be trusted with the most tender aspects of ourselves—our very hearts and tears.
If God sees fit, I will yet experience life as a missionary. But if God should choose for me to stay here, then I will trust that he still knows best and will seek the joy, meaning, and life that is found here. And I will trust that in the end, he will do the right thing. Just as he always does.