My Jesse was out of town last weekend. I volunteered to teach his High School / College elective class at church on Sunday. It seemed like a great opportunity to support him, and I felt like I was the natural candidate. I attend the class every week. I’m familiar with the format, I understand the overall goal, and I know how to study. Big shoes to fill, but I felt satisfied knowing I was enabling Jesse to leave with a confidence that the class was in competent hands.
Perfect…except for the fact that I am invariably intimidated by the prospect of being the center of attention. Okay, so a Sunday school setting is hardly a high-pressure speaking engagement, but it definitely involves the other people in the room staring at you and expecting you to say something. Perspective helps some, but remembering that it’s about serving the students and pointing them to Jesus doesn’t actually change the reality that everyone’s waiting for me to do the pointing, and hoping that I point in an interesting way.
By Friday night, I was grumpy with myself. Not for agreeing to do it—I was still very pleased to have the opportunity. And not for a lack of bravery. I was being brave. It just really irritates me that I have to be brave. This kind of thing always goes just fine, and often I really enjoy it once I get going. It seems a little insane that I feel way out of my league on the before side of things—every single time.
Sunday was fine. The class is always sweet and polite. Several students were obviously with me—attentive and interactive. There were a few faces that appeared somewhat comatose, but I suppose anyone who teaches anything on Sunday mornings gets to see those expressions occasionally. Oddly, some students looked downright scared. I’m not sure what to make of that, except that I have a tendency to unknowingly express myself with a level of gravity that exceeds anything I’m actually feeling or trying to communicate. I guess that could be scary.
But that was a tangent. What I actually wanted to share was the encouraging reminder that was borne out of my prep / reflection time. The class is an overview of the story of the Bible and we were in Exodus 33 this week.
You know the story. God meets Moses in the tent of meeting. They talk person to person—no visions, no mediators. Moses intercedes for the people. Moses is encouraged by how that goes, so he asks to see God’s glory. God’s response?… You can’t see my face—but I’ll show you as much of me as you can handle. When Moses leaves the tent, Joshua stays behind.
What I saw in this:
- Previously, at Sinai, God introduced himself and offered himself to the people. They weren’t interested, and rejected his offer.
- By contrast, Moses had a pretty intimate relationship with God already, but really wanted to know him better. God was very willing (you might even say eager) to facilitate that.
- Joshua wanted to stay and hang out with God after Moses left the tent. God must’ve reciprocated relationally somehow. (I have come across an unqualified explanation that he was guarding the tent to prevent others from getting in, but I see nothing in the text that demands, or even implies that. Feel free to chime in if you have something to offer on that score.)
My take home:
Life is a series of opportunities to communicate to God that we’re interested in him. Yes, he wants to be sought, but he is eager to be found. He knows and responds to whether or not we actually do want him, but there is nothing stingy or grudging in the way he offers himself to us. The requirements for knowing God better seem to be (1) a desire to do so and (2) a willingness to engage him.
It’s so simple, but so big.
The terrifyingly mighty, awe-inspiring Creator of the universe humbly, vulnerably, and expectantly offers himself in relationship to me. He wants me to want him.
It is difficult to express the wonder and beauty I see in that.
I don’t often use the word adoration—but it is precisely what this inspires in me.
He’s so good.
May my heart echo Moses’s request:
Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Exodus 33:13
I want to keep knowing him better, so I can keep loving and serving him better, so he can be more blessed by me and pleased with me, so I can know him better…