“We are doing all these for God’s glory!” – this to someone’s ears can be simply a cliche meaningless Christianese, which hits nothing, thuds nothing, pounds nothing. A few words can easily be rung in anyone’s ears but wouldn’t be zapped by the weight of its reality.
As we await with expectancy of what is about to unfold in this coming week, “I began to find my answer on the flank of a remote, austere mountain, dark with storm, alongside a man weary from doing good …” as I flipped open one of the books I always go back to as I ponder on the meaning of “awaiting for the Lord to show us His glory”, the author wrote about his wrestling too of putting his fingers on what is God’s glory in the midst of the wait, of feeling weary,
This was Moses’ second encounter with God on Mount Sinai. In his first encounter, he went up the mountain to receive the Law, hewing and hauling two stone tablets with him so that God could inscribe them with His finger. While he was gone, the Israelites became restless, surely.
This is where I found my answer about God’s glory, standing beside this man who was weary of doing good. Moses has won the first round of argument with the Lord. God concedes that He will not destroy the people, but He will insists on forsaking them. So Moses presses in for round two –
HE WANTS ALL OF GOD OR NOTHING.
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” – Exodus 33:18
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” – Exodus 33:15
Moses isn’t distressed about losing the provision of God. He is distressed only about losing the presence of God.
This is the core question of every disciple.
It is every Christian leader’s question.
It is every church’s question.
What else but God’s presence will distinguish me and Your people from everyone else on the face of the earth?
Nothing. Nothing will. Nothing can.
If I speak with the tongues of mens and angels, BUT God’s presence does not go with me, what else will distinguish me from just another orator?
If the church is involved – and she must be – in social action, in legal reform, in feeding the hungry, if we give our bodies to the flame and have faith to move mountains and to fathom all mysteries, BUT His presence does not go with us, what else will distinguish us from all the other educational institutions and welfare agencies on the face of the earth?
N O T H I N G.
Anyone can do what we do. Most, in fact, do it better. They have bigger budgets, shrewder marketing, splashier promotion, more streamlined organization. The world’s production value make us look like bumpkins and rustics. We are mostly working out of old buildings with water-stained ceilings and rattle-fanned furnaces, with cardboard cartons for filing cabinets and a toilet whose tank cover is permanently removed so that you can fiddle the plunger to flush it.
And yet there was a JOY and EXPECTANCY in the place that nothing that met the eye – nothing that met any of the senses – could account for. These people were either deluded or they knew a deep secret.
All that really distinguishes us from all the other people on the face of the earth is that
God is with us.
Moses asked, “Show me Your glory.”
What happens next is critical. It is the Rosetta stone for understanding how the whole earth is full of God’s glory.
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
What is glory of God on earth? In simplest terms, this is it :
His goodness shown,
His name proclaimed.
May the next 7 days, all we are looking starkly into is the Lord’s glory and goodness shown, His name proclaimed, whether it’s in the form of donation rising in the thermometer, or of participants’ registrations filing up our charts. That more gratitude will come, not from the above tangibles, but from more of an awareness of God’s presence and His goodness. More gratitude will come despite the outcome. More gratitude will bubble over as we fully aware of the fact that God is with us – Emmanuel – that is what it is to distinguish us!
Our heart is to recognize this biblically shaped and grounded truth that God’s ways of speaking and promising, His methods of disclosure are wide and varied. His speeds of answering prayers could take a split second or decades. Hence, our eyes should be wide opened, our hearts with open expectancy, our ears pricked without wax plugging the airways.
EXPECTANCY. Not necessarily with expectation, because expectation tends to dictate terms. The Pharisees lived with expectation and rejected Christ when He did not fit the rigid narrowness of their expectations. Often I wonder if we, waiting for Christ’s return, do it more with expectation than expectancy.
EXPECTANCY is the belief that God will do something. Expectation insists He do it in just this way. Sometimes expectation blinds us more to God who is here right now and than outright disbelief does. The Pharisees couldn’t see Jesus for looking. Or those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. There they are, bemoaning the absence of the very one who’s present with them. What made them deaf and blind? Expectations: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21) But that “hope” took a form that shut out surprises, like crosses and resurrection and a deeper redemption.
Imagine a life buoyed by expectancy, by the conviction that the Lord will show Himself. How, where, when – we don’t know that. We don’t dictate the terms. We have certain touchstones, certain ways of sifting out the good from the bad, the real from the fake, fruit, truth, the exaltation of Jesus. We don’t want to become spiritual rubbles, open to the mountebank’s bluff, too easily dazzled.
By living with biblically girded expectancy, our lives stir to vibrant wakefulness. Wakeful to His touch, wakeful to His whisper, wakeful to His breeze wherever He choose to blow!