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Moses on Mount Sinai

Title: Moses on Mount Sinai
Artwork by: Edward Rowan (@edward_rowan)
Description: Have you ever felt the presence of God? Did it feel like a comforting fatherly hug or a sense of peace within you?

These depictions of God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai vary from the assuring presence we often experience of God. He does not always reveal Himself in a manner we expect to experience Him.

Moses and God’s glory

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:15-18)

With his eyes closed and staff by his side, Moses sits alone waiting expectantly on God.

Why does God seem silent?

But what Moses didn’t realize is that God has been present all along, as manifested in the elaborate clouds behind him.

 

Moses and cloud of fire

18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. (Exodus 19:18-19)      

Facing the glowing clouds of fire, Moses kneeled before God in awe as his small frame was enveloped in God’s power and grandeur.

Sometimes God also makes His presence known in a powerful and evident way that compels us to respond to Him.

How does this change your perspective about God? You might be afraid if God reveals Himself to you in such a manner, but let it be an assurance of the mighty God we serve.

I Have Anxiety But I’m Not Alone

Written By Marissa Cathey, Mexico

Walking out of the metro station, I was suddenly met by foreign smells and swarms of people. The ground was covered in what appeared to be soot, and as I pushed through the crowds, I felt my own thoughts being drowned out by the overwhelming noises and sounds coming from street vendors, bargaining customers, and chaotic traffic.

I struggled to find an alley or a side street where I could catch my breath. I was starting to hyperventilate and inwardly panic due to all the disorderly activity going on around me. I finally found a less busy street but soon noticed liquid dripping from the apartment buildings on both sides of the narrow road, all around me. These drops, probably from the air conditioning units, likely carried millions of germs, which led me to freak out even more.

That’s how one of my many anxiety attacks started.

 

My struggle with anxiety

When I moved to Hong Kong in early 2017, I couldn’t have been more excited and overjoyed to finally be fulfilling the call I’d received as a child. Raised in a strong Christian family in Mexico, God put a burden for East Asia on my heart as kid, and with time, I developed a desire to someday use my multimedia skills in a church to help make Christ and the gospel more known.

I have to be honest though. Every day since moving here has been a battle against endless fears: lack of order in public places, being surrounded by crowds, and a number of other anxieties regarding social interactions. I’ve struggled with anxiety since 2014, but it spiked significantly once I moved from my small Mexican town of 2,000 people to metropolitan Hong Kong with 7,000,000 people.

Anxiety can be crippling for me. Most days I don’t even want to leave my bed to face people and ministry responsibilities. On days when I do leave the house, there’ve been times when, because of the amount of people present, I’d start hyperventilating during a church service, and would need to escape the sanctuary until either I calm down or the service ends. On the metro, if it becomes too crowded, I would have to get off at the next stop and let the oncoming trains pass by until one pulls in with less people on it.

Thankfully, my resolve to carry out the duties given to me by the church usually outweighs my desire to avoid crowds. But what has helped me particularly is remembering how God’s presence has been with me in the past, and how He has helped me make it through all the bad days. That’s what motivates me to keep moving forward and being faithful in service.

 

God is with me

Growing up in a Christian household, I’d become accustomed to hearing “God will never leave you” (Deut. 31:8), “God is always watching over you” (Ps. 121:5), or “God is your comfort in the storm” (John 14:27). But I never truly understood these truths until I started experiencing pain for myself. The peace these promises give has been instrumental in my growth and perseverance in life.

In times when I experience sensory overload or near panic attacks in public places, God literally brings calm to my heart by helping me recall a worship song or a Bible verse I’d read recently. When I participate in weekly outreaches in the red light district, or as I learn to lead in my church’s youth group on Friday nights, God gives me a boldness and a love for people exactly when I need His help.

Jesus tells His followers, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis added). This verse has come to mean a lot to me, reminding me that I can’t experience peace in trials if I’m not in Jesus, if I’m not resting in Him. This trust in Him, this kind of faith—this is true intimacy with the Lord. And we get to experience the safety of this intimacy during our troubles and strife!

God knows the beginning and end of my day. He knows how things will turn out, and He carries me through it all because He knows I am “but dust” (Psalm 103:14). It’s the same for us all. Ultimately, experiencing difficulties while trying to stay in tune with God’s will can help us become stronger in our faith and experience deeper levels of grace with God that we didn’t even think possible.

 

The church is with me

One thing I have found very real in my life is that God uses my willingness to open up to others to bring about healing and encouragement. As I grew to trust people in church, I began to share my struggles with them. And as a result, I felt deeply cared for and looked out for like never before. Each time they sensed me dealing with an anxiety attack, they would come over to randomly give me a hug, pray for me, or text me to ask how I was. This has given me more comfort and peace than I can say, and has shown me what it means when the body of Christ ministers to one another.

Though it’s hard for friends and leaders to understand my full spectrum of anxiety, I have only ever been accepted and treated as a child of God. I have been blessed through fellowship with other believers in both the good and bad times.

At the end of the day, our present troubles are nothing compared to the glory set before us. Our future leads up to one thing: spending eternity with Christ. All our time on earth is meant for us to learn dependence on God and enjoy intimacy with Him. This carries us through trials, sufferings, and storms of all sorts. He wants to use us to bring others into His family, and He also uses our challenges and weaknesses, for in them His image best shines forth as people see more of Him and less of us.

This isn’t to say that my battle with anxiety is easier or done with. Actually, far from it. I continue experiencing good and bad days every week. But I’m still here. And God is still providing for me. He is still bringing people in my life to push me forward. He is faithful even when I’m not. And He is still everything I’ll ever need.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

 

Do We Die Alone?

Written by Kim Cheung, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

Granny lay breathless on her bed, making occasional groans and moans due to the pain and discomfort she was feeling. Her wrinkled face seemed to have aged further.

I sat by her bedside, never once taking my eyes off her. Summoning up all her strength, she opened her eyes, looking me straight in the eye.

“Are you hungry?” I asked. My question was met by silence; she didn’t have any strength left to speak.

Three weeks had passed since Granny first returned home from the hospital. Including her time spent at the hospital, it had been 17 days since she last ate any solid food. It never occurred to me that she would ever become so weak.

Aside from the fact she was 92 and had a history of heart disease, Granny’s health was always in tiptop condition. She didn’t require much care in her daily life; she ate and slept well every day, so much so that she seemed even healthier than those much younger than her. Furthermore, she always had a positive outlook on life (unlike her peers) and often said that she had to live well to keep up with the progress of our world today.

And yet at this very moment, she was a dying old person struggling in the final moments of her life. She looked like she was in intense pain. A whirlwind of emotions raged in my heart beneath my calm exterior, and I wondered: How could I best comfort her and bring her some relief in this situation?

The answer came quickly—there was nothing I could do but pray.

At this point, she gently stretched out her hand and held on to mine. Though her hand was frail, it felt exceptionally warm. I quietly prayed in my heart: Lord, You are with her. Please come and comfort her with your presence. Only You can bring true comfort . . . After a while, Granny seemed to have fallen asleep; there was a peaceful look on her face. I slowly removed my hand and prayed that the Lord would hold on to hers.

This was the very first time I witnessed someone struggling in her final moments. And yet, death is something all of us will eventually experience ourselves one day. Who would accompany us on this long and lonely road then?

I recalled a sharing from many years ago which stuck with me: All of us come to this earth alone and will have to leave in the same manner—alone. Though it sounded pessimistic, the reality of it hit home at that very moment. Our family and friends can only be with us in our final moments on earth, but it’s impossible for anyone to accompany us on the journey to the afterlife.

And this is what leaves many in despair. Death is already what many fear the most—to think that we have to face our deepest and darkest fear all alone!

Thankfully, I found hope in Christ. Because the Lord is always with us, there is never a single moment in time when we are alone. He goes with us through the mountains and valleys of our lives. David said in Psalm 23:4 (ESV), “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

And beyond that, Jesus has also gained victory over the stronghold of death, as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” So we no longer face ignorance and despair after we die, but rather life, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  This shows the extent of God’s love for us—He is always with us and He wants to bring us new life.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that we only come to a deeper understanding of the Lord’s presence when we are approaching life’s end. This is because we we can no longer depend on anyone or anything else. Only in our loneliest moment do we  discover that God alone is our surest, stable Rock in whom we can place our trust.

Only He can bring us true comfort and help in our darkest time. Only God will be with us forever—everything else is temporal and will fade away.

I thank the Lord that I’ll never be alone even as I finish my journey here on earth.

So for my remaining days here, I live with that perspective in mind, trusting in His faithfulness and leaning on Him as my dependable Rock.

Dearest Lord Jesus, please hold on tightly to my hand.

Wind

Title: Wind
Materials: Watercolor
Artwork by: Flora
Description: 

God is like the wind
You can’t see him but

You feel it in your face
Your hair your everything

He moves you when you
Least expect it and then

You don’t see a thing
Just a feeling from within

And then you ask yourself
Is this a dream or am I

Getting closer to Him
I guess He’s like the wind

The rainbow the sun the stars
The moon and everything therein!

Poem written by Antonie DeJong