«And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here’ «. Exodus 33:14, 15
FRANZ KAFKA, one of the most influential writers of universal literature of all time, wrote in his Aphorisms, «All human errors stem from impatience, a premature breaking off of a methodical approach, an ostensible pinning down of an ostensible object.»* If ever a group of people did precisely what Kafka said, it was the Israelites camped at the base of Mount Sinai.
When the people started feeling «that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him’ » (Exodus 32:1, 2). Impatient with Moses’s absence, the people committed a terrible idolatrous act by saying the golden calf was the god that had brought them out of Egypt. After a big discussion between Moses and the Lord, the people were forgiven and allowed to resume their journey to Canaan.
Following that terrible event, Moses asked the Lord who would go with him on the long journey to the promised land; then the Lord «said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then [Moses] said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here’ » (Exodus 33:14, 15). What God told him was, «l Myself will go with you.» The people wanted a golden calf to go with them; nevertheless, God overlooked their impatience and decided to not only go with them, but to also go before them as the God who, as Exodus 34:7 literally says, «bears the iniquity» of His people. The Lord would not just be a mere spectator, He would go as a companion to lighten His people’s journey.
Perhaps like Israel, some of us want a visible god, one that looks like what is in our hands, a golden calf to whom we can attribute our success.
However, what we really need is to believe that God has told us, «My Presence will go with you.» His Presence is invisible to the eyes, silent to the ears, but is felt in the soul. It is that Presence which fills our empty spaces, speaks to us when all other voices are quiet; that Presence which bears your burden and lightens your journey.