I mentioned before that I did not grow up in Sunday School, so although I've been walking with Jesus for over twenty years now, there are just parts of the Word that seem brand new to me and I hope they always do. When I was up to my eyeballs in preparing for a teaching recently, the words of Exodus 33 captivated me. Wide-eyed, I recounted the events to my husband - and probably butchered it.
"When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." Exodus 33:9-10
I slipped and said it was the believers who saw Moses enter the tent and they rose up and worshiped, too. I was about to blubber something about how I just couldn't turn back from my task at hand if even one believer saw it, too, and it caused something in them to rise up, too... when my sweet husband interrupted me.
"Everybody. Em, it was everybody. Not just the believers. Everybody worshiped when they saw him go in that tent. No matter who they are, whether they think they believe or not, we are all created to worship God and deep down, we KNOW that. Sure, people go chasing all kinds of things and get as far from God as you can imagine, but we all know it! It's not just believers. We all do."
His tone caught me off guard and the fire in his eyes pierced my heart. At first I thought he was annoyed that I was mistaken, but then I heard the rest of the story. It was the guttural cry for all mankind. And not just the ones long gone who lived in Old Testament days, but the ones living down the street today. Don't sell them short. It's not just the believers who will recognize it when the Lord is at work. If that were the case, why would we ever go to the mission field or share our faith at all? We're all good, so it's all good. Right?
My man is one of few words and I am sure he has already forgotten that conversation altogether. That's his way. Point me back on the Way and go back to his business. We've been together since we were kids and he's used to my antics. They go all the way back to a time when I decided as a sixteen year old that we'd do a couple's devotional over the phone every night and proudly proclaimed we'd be reading from the book of "Muh-law-chee" and I heard him cackle on the other end.
"Babe? Do you mean Malachi?"
He's always ten steps ahead of me, but don't tell him I said that. That's not the point here anyway. Not by a long shot.
The point is: it matters who's looking, y'all.
It matters who is looking.
We never know who is looking.
And what matters more than that is who we are looking to.
When God is at work in our lives, people absolutely will notice. Not just believers, but all people. All people may not believe in Him, but all are created by Him. Every last one of them is known by Him and created for worship, whether they like it or not. When we enter into relationship with Him, much less into regular conversation with Him, heads will turn, ears will perk up, eyes will widen.
The Expositor's Bible Commentary explains it like this: "The presence of the pillar of the cloud at the tent entrance evoked a spirit of worship from the people."
Notice it didn't say anything about how the fancy words or nice clothes or bling or big screens of Moses caught the people's eye or captured their hearts. Far from it. Moses was real with God. He didn't hide his insecurities or even pretend he was good with going alone. He asked questions. He laid his heart out before the Lord (not before the people) and the Lord answered his cries, showing Moses favor.
Moses said, "Please show me your glory." - Exodus 33:18
In a world filled with folks - folks Moses had been chosen to lead, no less - who had decided God was mean, angry, and surely out to destroy them, that was the response. Moses pleaded with God to see his glory.
Let's be those kind of people.
God is still going to be gracious to whom he is going to be gracious and show mercy on whom he will show mercy, just like he told Moses he would, but what on earth might change if we were pleading for his glory instead of whatever else we're wasting our breath on??
When we wake each morning to face a new day, we immediately have the opportunity to choose who we are going to follow, listen to, bow our knee to, pledge our allegiance to that day. From the time our eyes pop open, we get to choose where we first turn our face. Will it be to social media, to breakfast, to our kids? Or will it be to the ONLY spirit who can evoke people to rise and worship? We are going to carry whatever our heart is filled with into whatever rooms we enter each day. Whatever the contents, they will inevitably splash onto the ones we encounter. Why not let it be Jesus?
I don't know about you, but I cannot look to God if my schedule is so packed that I am trying to squeeze Him into the margins of my calendar. I will not have much to pour out if I am so parched I can hardly swallow. If I am gazing at my scars instead of my Healer, I'll tell a bitter story instead of one of glory. If my day is planned around my checklist instead of the One who gave me that day, I am wasting my time.
We may very well be living in the midst of a stiff-necked people, too, and it's quite likely we are the stiff-necked people ourselves, but our God is the same God He was Moses when he was in our shoes. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. What else could we possibly think we have to offer the ones around us that could compare to that?
What is it that burns deep down in your bones? What is it that you're good at, that it makes no earthly sense that you're good at? Do you know that's your gift? What makes your heart pound AND makes a difference on this soil? Why aren't you doing that with your days? What's stopping you? What's keeping you from being the man or woman God created you to be?
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."
Without glancing over your shoulder, friend, ponder who might be watching you.
Moses entered the tent whenever he desired a meeting with the Lord. He wasn't thinking about who was over his shoulder and neither should we be. We ought to be more concerned with seeing His glory than anything else. We, too, should be bold enough to tell the Lord if His presence does not go with us, we do not want to go forward. Or have we forgotten what a difference glory makes? By choosing to turn our faces and to spend our time looking to the world over its Creator, we eliminate the foothold the enemy is trying to maintain in our lives. Moreover, we stand the chance to be the ones who evoke a spirit of worship in the ones paying attention to our lives and that punk enemy will lose his footing in their lives, too.
It's not just the believers, y'all. In the words of my dear husband, "It's everybody. No matter who they are, whether they think they believe or not, we are all created to worship God and deep down, we KNOW that. Sure, people go chasing all kinds of things and get as far from God as you can imagine, but we all know it! It's not just believers. We all do."
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25