Then Moses said to the LORD, "See, You say to me, 'Bring up this people.' But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.' Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people." And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth." So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33:12-23, NKJV)
Driving to a meeting tonight, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I've observed in a while. The sun was below the horizon and the sky and clouds above it were layers upon layers of fiery pink, crimson, yellow, and orange. The gray-blue tops of the clouds, colored as the twilight added its own shadow, made the scene even more spectacular. As I drove, I thought about the make-up of the sunset and the timing of what I was seeing. It would not have looked like it did just 30-40 minutes earlier. At that point, the sun would still have been above the horizon and the colors would not have been nearly that brilliant. Not to mention the damage one can do staring at the sun itself. No, it had to be just out of site to make the picture what it was.
Early during the long trek through the wilderness, God took Moses up on the mountain to give him specific instruction regarding how He wanted His nation run. Through the entire time (and even before that), God had repeatedly told Moses that He would be with him through everything. Moses had plenty of self-doubt (don't we all?), but God was patient with him. Here on the mountain, Moses makes another request ... he wants to see God's glory.
In so many words, God says, "You can't see it. It would kill you." But then God makes a provision for Moses to experience as much of His glory as he can bear and still live. God hides Moses in a corner, covers him up, and then passes by very close. At the last possible second, God removes His hand and Moses sees the reflective wonder of his Lord. And, I believe, much like the sunset I described, it was a completely wonderful sight. It was a sight he could never have experienced by looking at it dead-on. That would have fried him to a crisp! But seeing it as a reflection, with layer upon layer of color and texture and sheer majesty flowing behind the Almighty presented a sight so powerful, Moses glowed for days afterward. In fact, the Israelites pretty much demanded that he wear a veil over his face so they didn't hurt their eyes when they looked at him.
How much like our loving Father to provide Moses with a reflection of His glory and me with a vision of that sunset. Both of us were enriched by the experience, though I imagine Moses a little more so than I. Still, how many times to we try to find a direct line of sight to God and overlook the reflection He so graciously provides all around us? Certainly, when we cross over our own final horizon, we will see God in His glory and will be well-equipped to do so. Until then, we need to look for His reflection in the people and things He has created.
As I travel my Crooked Path, I will have many opportunities to see the sunset or the sunrise or some other wonder. Simple beauty, the kind that truly reflects the character of the Creator is all around me. Perhaps I need to slow down at times and really look for it. Then when I'm tempted to say to God, "Show me your glory," I can stop myself and realize He already has. And through the vision of that reflected glory, I can mirror God to a lost and confused world all around me. After all, that is what He wants me to do.
- Are you looking around you for that reflective glory of our Father, or are you trying to see him head-on instead?
- What will it take to make you content with God's answer and provision when you ask to see Him more clearly? Do you think you could withstand Him coming to you directly, or is it better to see His reflection?
- Have you overlooked the simple beauty God provides all around you and the wonder it can bring to your life? Will you commit today to looking for it so you can reflect God back out to the world around you?