The LORD Be With You
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3 NIV
…to be with me…
Those four words in that verse recently jumped right out at me. It was an “ahah” moment.
Even though I’ve heard and read that verse many times, this Sunday in church I suddenly got “it.”
More than once and in many different ways, I have not gotten “it” — not even if it was wrapped up with pretty paper in a big box with a big red bow and an enormous sign that said, “IT.”
And, when I occasionally do get one of those moments, my head can rush ahead and forward and behind what the pastor is saying, often ending somewhere off to the side or chasing a wild goose into the setting sun.
In this case, my head went from the beginning of time to the end of time and on into eternity.
Because it made me think, “Yes! God created us to be with Him in the first place!”
That was the purpose, the plan, the grand design of all time! God creates us in His own image to be with Him and to love and to be loved—that love would be multiplied forever.
So it makes perfect, absolute, and beautiful sense that there would be a plan to be with Him for all eternity even after we fell.
Yes, it wouldn’t be easy and it would look absolutely awful during the process, but once it was over and it had worked, it would be beautiful beyond comprehension.
Kings and kingdoms would submit themselves to the One who had submitted to death on a cross, all so we could be with Him forever.
And that made me think about how we say, “The Lord be with you.”
And also with you. (Or, “And also with your spirit.”)
There’s even a name for it: “Dominus vobiscum,” which is Latin for (of course) “The Lord be with you.”
It’s been used in Christian Liturgical services for so long I couldn’t find a historical record of its first inclusion. Perhaps its most famous usage in the Bible is in the book of Ruth when Boaz uses it to greet the workers in his field, which makes the phrase at least 3,000 years old.
It also occurs in the book of Samuel, when Saul says it to David as he sends him out to battle Goliath. (The book of Samuel was written at about the same time as the book of Ruth. In fact, it is thought that Samuel probably wrote the book of Ruth.)
So, its use dates way, way back. In some churches, the phrase may not be uttered in a church service by anyone who is anyone less than a deacon.
I think it’s an incredibly beautiful thing to say to another human being and I would even go so far as to try and start a trend of saying it to each other on a day-to-day basis.
I know there are many people out there who could sure use it as they go out to do battle with the Goliaths in their lives each day.
I even think we should start saying it to politicians and lawyers and judges and celebrities and police and activists and people in the media as a genuine and heartfelt prayer.
As I was pondering all this and trying to decide what to write, Kinship Christian Radio Executive Director Matt Dorfner was at the controls at the radio station and “just happened” to play a song I had not heard for some time.
It’s called “City of Gold” and it’s by the group City of Gold. The song is about the time when we will be with the Lord forever, and its lyrics are Today’s Praise:
Soon your trials will be over
Offered up by mercy’s hand
A better view from where you stand
Going to another land
The sweetest welcome from the Father
Gathered up and carried home
We are past this time of waiting
Come let us bow before Your throne
We will meet in the Golden City in the New Jerusalem
All our pain and all our tears will be no more
We will stand with the hosts of heaven
And cry holy is the Lamb
We will worship and adore You evermore
Never can the powers of darkness
Neither death nor even life
Let nothing ever separate us
From the holy love of God