Anyone who has ever had to do something difficult and who has questioned their purpose, God's plan, and how to accomplish tasks set before them ought to read Exodus 33. In this chapter, Moses is beseeching the LORD and asking God the whys and hows of his ministry. I take for granted the friendly conversation between Moses and God. It's evident in their exchange that their's is an intimate friendship.
During their conversation, Moses says to God, "Now show me your glory." God responds saying that all His goodness, compassion, and mercy will pass by him but that He will have to shield Moses because no one could fully look on God and live. He's just too much that our earthly bodies can't possibly stand it. The Lord passes by Moses and when he eventually returns to his people, Moses' face is described as radiant, so radiant that some were afraid of him and shining so bright that he eventually veiled his face. Imagine an encounter that changed your countenance so much that others couldn't look away but they couldn't understand it either.
I believe we all want to encounter God's glory. So what does it look like? I love that God says He will show love, compassion and mercy as a response to Moses' request. Perhaps God's glory isn't so much about the physical manifestation of God's presence but about what our heart encounters.
Recently, a friend who I don't see too often invited me to coffee. The invitation came without much warning but was not very casual. It was presented as, "Can you meet me tomorrow? I have something to discuss with you." This was not about a latte and discussing what our kids were up to, this woman had something to say and honestly I was a little worried. Had I done something wrong? Was she sick and needed to tell me about a diagnosis?
After a few minutes of chit chat she began to tell me how the Lord had put me on her heart. How she felt prompted to meet with me. And then she asked some questions. Questions that only the Lord could have given to her because she was asking things like, "Why haven't your written anything in a while?" and "Are you spending time with the Lord?". I was in shock because there was no way she could have known how much I was struggling to connect with God lately and was almost running from Jesus. I hadn't written because you can't write about what you don't know. Her words were not condemning or scolding, they were full of grace, mercy and compassion...they were full of God's glory. She continued to encourage me towards God's purpose for my life and showed me how God had used me in her life and other's lives.
Later that day, I recounted this meeting to my husband. I sat in his car and sobbed as I told him what she said and revealed - how she said things only God could have known. My husband continued to encourage me and also said he could see some of my distance with God. Not total rebellion but a coolness. We finished our conversation, I wiped my tears and exited the car. As we walked through the parking lot, a car approached us. It's license plate nearly knocked me over...S H E K I N A. I stopped and stared, the beautiful woman driving rolled her window down and grinned at me - it was like she was sent just to see me, her face was shining like the sun. I told her I loved her license plate and she said nodded and said, "Shekhina."
If you're not familiar with the word, Shekhina, it is the Hebrew word for God's presence or his GLORY. For me, it was confirmation that God wanted me in His presence again working out the purpose that He has for my life. It was also confirmation for me that God's glory doesn't always manifest itself in ways we expect.
God's glory can be found in face of the friend who asks you to coffee and tells you hard things and encourages you to spend time with the Lord. The glory can be read in the prayers texted to you from friends who know you are scared and afraid. The shekhina is not always the bright light passing by but the beautiful face of a stranger who grins because she knows you recognize the message on her car. His glory can be found in the hand of your husband as he holds yours and tells you to follow after God first. His glory can be found in the honest tears that run down our faces when we confess.
Moses' encounter teaches us that if we earnestly seek the Lord, He is faithful to show Himself and make His glory known.