Deuteronomy 31:8. NIV
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
A few days ago Star Wars fans everywhere were greeting each other with popular pun combining the the date - May 4th - with the Force from Star Wars and a fairly common playful greeting in Christian worship services. “May the Fourth be with you.” Many responded with, “And also with you.” I love this. It never gets old. Of course, we only do it once a year so it really doesn’t have a chance to get old.
In this verse from Deuteronomy Moses assures Joshua that God will be with him as he leads the tribes of Israel into their Promised Land. “Fear not. God will lead you and guide you and be with you, no matter what.” I wonder how often Joshua had to repeat these words to himself as he led the Hebrew people - which by all accounts made herding cats look easy.
Sometimes I need the assurance that no matter what, God is with me. I am not alone. God will never leave or forsake me. There are days when I repeat one or more of these phrases like a mantra or affirmation, doing my best to convince myself to obey the injunction to “fear not.” Sometimes fear gets the better of me. This is normal, I think, that we have moments of fear and doubt. It is at those moments that I have to rely upon my experience of God’s work in my life, and my faith that God loves me, no matter what. Some days that is easier than others. On those other days, I need someone to say, “the Lord be with you.”
When we greet each other with words like, “May the Lord be with you,” “May the Peace of Christ be with you,” and other combinations we are pronouncing a blessing - a really powerful blessing. With these words that seem so commonplace that we can turn them into internet memes, we remind each other that God is, in fact, always with us. Even when we aren’t certain about that. Even when we feel alone. Even when we are living in fear. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.
Gracious God, help us remember that you are always with us. Lead us as you led Joshua into a new land. Be our light and our vision, lead us together, lead us to freedom in your Spirit. Amen.