A woman’s purse. It’s the basic essentials of life … on a shoulder strap. Personally, I never know what surprises mine might hold. Not long ago I was searching for a receipt and – surprise, surprise – I found a candy bar. Well, sort of a candy bar. It had dwelt deep in the depths of that purse so long that even though it was still inside its wrapper, it was completely smooshed. And by “smooshed,” I actually mean something closer to “liquefied.”
I was still looking for the receipt when it occurred to me that not all the surprises in there are pleasant. I found five fuzzy Lifesavers, some solidified sunscreen, one mitten and three keys of unknown origin. But no receipt. There were 12 tissues (though none I would actually use), last year’s Christmas list, the backs from a handful of adhesive name tags and a dead cricket. Still no receipt.
Something green and squishy-looking caught my eye. And it frightened me. I gathered my courage as best I could, tossed the cricket, then drank the candy bar for a little extra resolve.
Then I realized the heart of my purse – the real heart – was the Bible I kept tucked inside. Okay, it’s not exactly like I found Jesus in my purse. But His Word was there. Granted, it smelled a little like those Lifesavers, but still.
It was a little reminder of the preciousness of God’s presence. Moses got that. As he was leading the people of Israel toward the Promised Land, he asked the Lord to show him His way. God answered, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exod. 33:14). Moses said in the next verse, “If Your presence does not go … don’t make us go up from here.” He was saying that if God’s presence wasn’t promised, even a land flowing with milk and honey would have no sweetness. If God wasn’t in it very personally, Moses just plain didn’t want to go.
David got it too. Because in the grand sense, there’s no place where God isn’t. In Ps. 139:7-10 he says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Nope, no place without His presence. Not the heavens, not the depths of the sea – not the depths of my purse. I could climb all the way inside that purse, and He would still find me there. He knows the contents of every purse and of every heart. And still He loves us and, according to that psalm, He is faithful to lead us by the hand.
That’s a blessed, cup-running-over kind of reason to rejoice – even though I never found the receipt. Maybe the cricket ate it? And for the record, I think the green squishy thing used to be a jelly bean. I guess we’ll never know. My kids were all home and I’m pretty sure one of them ate it.
Rhonda is a pastor’s wife, happily married and living in the St. Louis area. She is a humor columnist for publications in the U.S. and Canada and is the author of 10 books with more on the way. She says she will keep cranking them out as long as the Lord allows. –And the psychoses hold out.