Carey. As part of our weekly readings we read the story of God giving the ten commandments. And I've not been able to stop thinking about it since. Not for the reasons you may think though.
Moses was a reluctant leader.
God called him and asked him to lead his people out of slavery to Egypt. It seems to me that Moses felt the weight of the request. He had ties to Pharaoh - he'd been raised and educated in his home. Moses begins to see the plight of the Israelites though. Their slavery is cruel and unbending due to their immense number. Pharaoh was threatened that they may rise up against him. He comes to the defense of a slave who is being beaten by an Egyptian and kills him. Off Moses races in to the desert and marries a women out there and settles down. Egypt is all but a dream.
God interrupts as He is want to do.
Camp is made at the bottom of Sinai, and Moses goes up to get the law from God. He's up there for so long, that his people below begin to doubt that he'll return. So they take matters in to their own hand and decide to create an image to worship, a golden calf. It blows your mind. These people have been travelling through the desert seeing God move spectacularly on their behalf over and over again. Yet they turn to something made of their own hands for comfort. Not so dissimilar to ourselves really.
After Moses has dealt with the people, he again goes up the mountain to get new tablets from God (he'd shattered the others).
Now this is the part that has occupied my thinking. This reluctant leader must have trod up that mountain with the world on his shoulders. These people who he's led out of slavery turned to their own devices not long after he had left. They seemed faithless. They had no purpose beyond enjoying the present moment. His heart must have been heavy. Perhaps broken. I suggest he was in the depths of despair. Trapped out here on a fools errand...
Out of this blackness comes the gutteral request of a desperate man...
"... show me your glory...." (God, I can't do this)
"...SHOW me your glory..." (God let me go back to Midian)
"...Show ME your glory..." (I need to see you! I need to see that you're God!)
"...show me your GLORY...!" (please...)
And here's the bit that sends shivers down my spine.
God, full of grace, grants his request. We aren't told why, but I like to imagine that God knew that Moses needed a real encounter with him to carry on. He sees his human, his created-in-his-image human, and has compassion.
God places Moses in the cleft of a rock. It's said that this would have been like a crack in the mountain. God tells him not to look directly at him or he'll die, but that God will pass by the rock and Moses will see his glory.
Can you imagine?
So I wanted my own "show me your glory" moment. Why? Well, when it came down to it, I wanted to 'feel' some proof of his existence and involvement in my life in such a way that I could be certain it was not 'of' me. Not that I thought God would actually put me behind a rock and pass by me, but you know, something. I longed for this for months. My Old Testament paper finished, and my New Testament paper... Then I began a paper Thinking Theologically.
In the first lecture, we were told "God speaks most clearly today through His word". We were taught about Scripture, it's history and of the miracle of how it has been preserved so well throughout so many many years.
"God speaks most clearly today through His word."
My desire got redirected. I realised in that rather humiliating moment that I'd been downplaying the one method of seeing His glory that I had right in my lap! Now when I read I expect Him to show Himself to me in scripture, and to speak to me through scripture. 18 months (truth be told hindsight says it was longer) of looking for Him in the wrong places and finding Him right where He always was.