Fashioned for Dependence: Confessing Our Need

“If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” -Exodus 33:15

We had recently returned to the states after two years overseas that had challenged and depleted me. I was standing at the campground altar in Kerrville, Texas at the end of the Leading Ladies retreat in 2018. I was weary. I knew in my heart the Father was calling us to go back to the foreign field to continue reaching the unreached, but I just didn’t know if I had it in me. I don’t remember what the speaker said that service, but I do remember the battle raging in my heart between what I felt God was asking of me and what I felt I could actually do. Should we walk away? Did we make a mistake in committing to return to the remote mountains of Southeast Asia? But if we didn’t go, what else would we do? The thought of not answering the Lord’s calling was even scarier than the high cost of following Him. And so, I prayed a prayer very similar to the one Moses prayed in Exodus 33:

“God, You are all I have. You HAVE to go with me. I don’t have anything else but You.”

The verse right before Moses pleaded with the Lord to go with them into the unknown toward the Promised Land, God had already spoken to the fear in Moses’s heart and had promised to go with him. 

“I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest— everything will be fine for you.” (Ex. 33:14)

Even with this promise fresh from the mouth of God, Moses confessed his concerns and his utter dependence on God:

“Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me— on me and on your people— if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.’” (Ex. 33:15-16)

I don’t hear doubt in Moses’s confession here. God had promised to go with them already. Moses knew that. What I hear is a man who had impossible odds stacked against him, an unruly and disobedient people to lead, and an understanding that he would fail miserably if God’s presence was not with him every step of the journey.

Confessing our dependence on God is a very vulnerable thing. We have to come face to face with our own inadequacies and faults as we recognize that God’s calling isn’t about our ability, but our surrender. As I read Moses’s confession in this passage, I feel the same emotions that I was wrestling with on that January day in Kerrville. Desperation. Fear. Intimidation. Insecurity. Conviction. 

If You don’t personally go with me, don’t make me leave this place.

The good news is, God isn’t bothered by confessions like these. He desires them. He expects them. He draws near to us in them. He is looking for people who will not move without His presence because they recognize that they are not enough, but He is. Look at how God responds to Moses’s plea:

“The Lord replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” (Ex. 33:17)

He knows us, friends. He’s not surprised or bothered by our flaws and shortcomings. He knows about those (better than we do) when He calls us. Our confession of dependence on God releases His glorious presence into our lives— His presence that goes before us and with us into the places He calls us, that equips and strengthens us to do that which we cannot do alone. 

Our confession of dependence on God releases His glorious presence into our lives— His presence that goes before us and with us into the places He calls us, that equips and strengthens us to do that which we cannot do alone. 

Heather F.

After God promises Moses that He will do what Moses has asked of Him, Moses asks God to show him His presence. God replies by telling Moses to stand near the rock so that He can cover Moses with His hand in the cleft of it as His presence passes by. Moses’s confession of dependence is rewarded by seeing God in a way no one else had experienced or has experienced since. His confession led to a life-changing encounter with the Living God.

In our culture, dependence is seen as weakness. In Kingdom culture, dependence on God is seen as a strength. After all, His power works best in weakness, and when we are weak, He is strong in us. (2 Cor. 9-10) We do not have to feel strong or capable to say “yes” to what God asks of us. We can join with Moses and confess our desperate need for God’s presence with us if we are to go where He’s calling us to go. 

If you are feeling weak today, if the things God is calling you to do feel impossible or overwhelming, turn your fears into a prayer of confession. Be honest with God about your doubts. Tell Him how you need Him to come through for you. Embrace your dependency and acknowledge your lack.

And you can be confident that your confession will be met with His glorious presence— a presence that changes everything. A presence that changes us.

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