Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Passionately Present and Mysteriously Distant

I was invited to write one week of devotionals for the 2011 edition of the "Upper Room Disciplines." The devotionals are based on the lectionary scriptures for a week in October. Here is one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 – Read Exodus 33:18-23

How strange that God would show Moses his backside! We are told in the verses prior to this week’s readings that they spoke “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (33:11) Maybe Moses has grown accustomed to the tent of meeting. I can’t imagine getting used to God's descending in a cloud and being left with a shiny face.

But Moses desires more. He yearns for a sense of God's presence. In today’s reading, he pushes the envelope a little further and asks for a glimpse of God’s glory.

God reminds him that he cannot see God’s face directly, then places him on a rock and passes by, removing a hand from Moses’ eyes long enough for him to get a glance. It gives Moses the assurance he needs.

Grace is strange indeed - both passionately present and mysteriously distant. Experiencing this duality is the essence of knowing the glory of God in Christ.

The journey to a grateful heart begins with a willingness to look for God in mystical moments great and small. We can not grasp God; God is revealed. We do not reach out and touch. God comes to us. Our part is to be attentive.

Many of us desperately search for God. We read books, attend worship, go to Bible study, and apply principles; yet we still experience a profound hunger. Perhaps goodness passes us by all the time. We miss it because we are wired to be consumers rather than people of gratitude. Thank God for those mystical moments that open our eyes!

When have you experienced God this week or caught a glimpse of God’s backside? Ask God for more awareness.