"Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." Jeremiah 31:33
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Joshua 1:5
"'...and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:22-23
"...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20
As I was preparing for work this morning I began thinking about family and friends who had been with us through tough situations, cross-country moves, unexpected diagnoses and events that shook us to the core. When I was seven, my family moved hundreds of miles away from extended family and friends because my father got a better job. We were one of a handful of black families in our town and I was the first black child in my school. I clearly remember my first day when no one spoke to me until we lined up to go home. A girl standing in front of me with long orange (strawberry blond) braids and spots (my first encounter with freckles) on her face turned to me and said, "My name is Mary Jean. I'm bringing a ball to school tomorrow. Will you play with me?" My first friend in a strange place. Immanuel - God with us.
The beauty of this relocation was that my family was warmly accepted into our church and I was accepted in its school. Many of my new friends' parents became my parents' friends and whenever there was a family in need, we were all there for each other. Immanuel - God with us.
When I went off to college, I went from living a sheltered life to a new freedom and exposure to people from all over the world. I wasn't under my parents' watchful eyes and had the freedom to explore the world around me. I lived through some unsafe and painful situations, but God spared me. Immanuel - God with us.
Years later, I relocated to the southwest and watched how God blessed my family with friends and teachers who helped us adjust to a new life in a new city. We were cared for when disabilities and illnesses were diagnosed and blessed by way of hand-holding, Starbucks coffee, manicures, mini celebrations, promotions and love. Immanuel - God with us.
In this present season of my life, I believe God has called me to minister to His daughters in a unique way and every time I sit before Him asking how, instead of answering with a plan, He gives me visions of what it will be. The visions keep coming and the understanding that this ministry is bigger than I will ever be keeps growing. I continually question if I am qualified or ready and keep thinking there is more I need to do before the ministry will come together. The larger it gets, the more unqualified I feel. But God has a plan and a way of letting me know Who is able to take the impossible and blow it out of the water! It's not me; it's Immanuel - God with me.
As I was reflecting on where we have been God said, "Didn't I take care of you in the past? Don't you think I will take care of you in this ministry, too?" Whew! Knocked to my knees with this truth and grateful for His words of revelation and assurance. This ministry is not about me and what I am able to accomplish. It is about God doing in and through me for His glory. He opens the doors, enables, provides, covers and keeps. At the end of myself I am weak, but in this place God is able to do exceeding abundantly by the power that is within me (Ephesians 3:20). Immanuel - God with me.
The Apostle Paul said that he was able to do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Phil 4:13). Paul experienced great hardship, but he persevered because he knew the power within him, the power of the Holy Spirit, would enable him to endure as Christ did. Immanuel - God was with him.
As I continue to prepare and connect with others for this God-designed ministry, I pray that I will always remember Immanuel - God is with me, that I belong to Him and that His daughters will know the same.