Oftentimes when we are at a Legacy Retreat, it seems difficult to pinpoint emotions. Have you felt that? Maybe this is your first time serving, and you have all sorts of thoughts swirling around in your head about what to expect. Or, maybe we’ve done this a time or two and yet... we still have expectations of how it will go or how we WANT it to go.
And then there’s the task of going back home trying to recap a retreat... people may say, ”So, how was it?!” And you might struggle to find the words to explain exactly what happens here. “It was SOO good, but SO sad, but SO fun, and SOO heart-wrenching.” And we become caught in these hugely conflicting emotions. How do you pinpoint or even summarize what exactly you’re feeling as we walk with these families ?
I’ve heard it spoken here that it feels like we are on holy ground. I literally sighed with relief when I first heard it mentioned. Holy ground! So I thought we could begin looking at the places where holy ground is mentioned in scripture.
In Exodus 3 we see Moses have this encounter with God, and the Lord tells him to take off his shoes because he’s standing on holy ground.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” --Exodus 3:2-6, 10-12
God says, "Take off your shoes, Moses, and listen up. I have a job for you." But first, before He even tells him what He’s going to do, Moses has to acknowledge that he’s on holy ground, take off his shoes, and THEN God gives the task. And it’s an extraordinary task at that. I think all of us could see how overwhelming that must have felt to Moses -- bring thousands and thousands of people out of captivity? Sure. But the Lord assures him the plan is good and he needs to walk in it. SO THAT, He says in verse 12, WHEN you have completed this task, you will worship God here.
Which got me wondering if there’s other places in scripture that talk of holy ground too. In Joshua 5 we see it again. And just to give some context here, the Israelites, that Moses did in fact lead out of Egypt, have wandered for 40 years and JUST crossed the Jordan River, they’ve just set foot in the promised land, they’ve just had their very first meal of actual food instead of manna because now they are in the land.
The people are ready. They are prepared, they want to go and claim this land and live in it. And then we see Joshua. He seems to kind of escape from the crowd, go up to see the next move and survey Jericho. From his vantage point it had to be overwhelming. They are in the land, they are ready, the Lord promised them they would claim it, but this city of huge walls lays before them. BUT THEN... the commander of the Lord’s army appears.
And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. --Joshua 5:15
The very next thing recorded is the Lord giving instructions to him about the fall of Jericho, where God does this miraculous work. So again we see it -- recognize who I am, take off your shoes, you’re on holy ground... NOW I'll give the instructions for the MIRACLE I’m about to do!
What does God have for us in this? God first has them recognize who He is, and then tells them the work ahead, and then shows up in a huge way! Doesn’t that echo what happens at Legacy Retreats???
The spirit of the living God dwells within us, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that and then ASK Him what He has for us. Get the instructions from Him. How will you let Him guide you? What does He have for you?
We KNOW He shows up huge. You know in Exodus, and in every story really, the end game is that God gets the glory for what happens. He receives the praise for the immense miracle He does.
And I know that’s our heart too. So maybe we could take some minutes and remember who God is. Sit WITH and under His sovereignty. Remember He is holy and gracious and we get to be a part of the work that HE is doing.
Let any insecurity you may have or the fear of what type of family you may serve, let it fall. Any expectation you have of yourself and your role, let it fall. Let’s not be so consumed with what we THINK we “should be” and miss the presence of God among us. Let's be present HERE in the spirit of God, FOR these families. Sense and feel God's presence as He uses His people for HIS glory.
So I’m going to ask us to do something. I’d like it if we could take off our shoes and spend the next few minutes praying. Let's usher ourselves into our holy ground moment, expecting God to shine.