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The Name of God - The Divine Present
Marc Chagall Etching

The Divine Present...

Further thoughts on Parashat Shemot

by John J. Parsons

Today we prayed for someone who is dying and may only have a couple weeks left to live... Confronting the prospect death sobers the heart and focuses our perspective. For example, when we discuss theology, there is a temptation to become proud and to assume that we have a sort of "theological superiority" in our thinking. We may get into hairsplitting distinctions and hotly argue our convictions with others. Be careful!  We just don't have all the answers. After all, what do we really know about God, the LORD, as He is in Himself? Do we know Him as did our father Abraham? Do we know Him when our understanding fails us? God told Moses that his Name means that He is Present in every moment - past, present, and future. The Name God is "shorthand" for "I AM with you always." There is no moment, just as there is no place, where God is not "there" for us. This includes times of testing, darkness, and even death itself. The LORD our God does not abandon us, even when He seems hidden, powerless, or unwilling to intervene. Faith trusts that He is present there, in moments when we are vulnerable, weak, afraid, and seemingly all alone... Faith receives God as always present, the substance of our hope and dream of eternal healing and eternal life.

Note: The function of a name is to point to or signify reality... When we are in the hardest of moments, we don't worry about the morphology, phonetics, or linguistics of God's Name, but we rather call out and hunger for His Presence, Love, and Light. We are like little kids crying for our father. It is vanity and pride that makes people hardhearted regarding such matters. The Spirit of God speaks words of life to those who need to hear them.

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