Being Candid with God

Scripture Focus: Exodus 33:11-14
11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Reflection: Being Candid with God
By Erin Newton

Panim—that is the Hebrew word for face. It stands for our simple anatomical features. By our faces, we can be pinpointed out of a crowd. Faces are personal. Our faces reveal our innermost feelings. Faces can tell a story.

The word can also mean “presence.” When God said his Presence would go with Moses, he reassured Moses that he would be near. God’s attentive face was a sign of blessing.

So, what does it mean to talk to God panim to panim—face to face? At the end of this chapter, we know that it cannot mean literal conversations with God and Moses looking at one another. Such a sight would be a death sentence.

Face to face is intimacy. In English, we might call this a heart to heart, speaking in confidence, or straightforward dialogue. It is blunt and minces no words because it is a conversation between friends. Moses and God talked openly.

We often look at Moses as a rare hero in the Bible. He was special, unique, and gifted. He was the only person in the Exodus story that enjoyed the intimate relationship of being in God’s presence.

What do you say when you can speak freely before God?

You complain. Moses often referred to God’s people as “these people.” He got frustrated with their complaining, their lack of faith, and their disrespect.

You question the plan. Moses had no idea how God would help him accomplish this task. He said exactly what he was worried about.

You recall the truth about God’s love. Moses repeated the truth that God chose these people. He reminded God, and in doing so, preached to his own heart.

You ask God to fill in the gaps where you lack wisdom. Moses was well-educated and had the most intimate relationship with God. This relationship, however, did not mean he knew everything. He needed God’s guidance.

And through all of this, God was still pleased with Him. Moses’ frustration, anger, bitterness, doubt, questions—all of this was acceptable. God spoke to him as a friend.

Being honest and open with God should not be something we fear. Like Moses, we have constant access to the presence of God. We can speak plainly to him, face to face.

In days of doubt, deconstruction, or despair, speak to God as Moses did. Do not hesitate to pour out the darkest parts of your soul. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you; deliver me, according to your promise. — Psalm 119.169-170

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Reading
Exodus 33(Listen 3:49)
Luke 15(Listen 4:19)

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Read more about Unveiled
On Mount Sinai, God revealed more to Moses than he had revealed to any human since Adam and Eve.

Stealing Death’s Sting

John 12.27-33
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Reflection: Stealing Death’s Sting
By John Tillman

Lent is often a time in which believers look, with the help of the Holy Spirit at sin in our individual lives and in our communities. This week we have looked at sin and its effects on us, on our world, on our relationship with God.

We learned sin is not something we can brush off or take lightly. There are no small sins, only sins the costs and consequences of which we have denied or grossly misunderstood.

We learned actions can be sins, but that sin is an overwhelming environmental poison and influence that we are all terminally irradiated with. We are steeped in sin and the brew grows stronger and stronger the longer we deny it.

We learned scripture is not a weapon we can disassemble, using some verses to accuse others, and ignoring ones that point to our own sin. The sword of scripture cuts to the heart. But we must start with our own.

We also saw that the resurrection of Lazarus demonstrates the glory of God. Like Moses, God hid Lazarus in a cleft in a rock, covered his face, and allowed him a glimpse of God’s glory as Jesus passed by on the way to Jerusalem and to the cross.

In today’s reading we see that glory coming into sharper focus.  God is glorified through Christ’s sacrifice. Sin is defeated by his death, and death is defeated in his resurrection. Christ conquers sin, stealing death’s sting and the grave’s victory. Christ is lifted up and we are drawn to him, leaving sin and death behind.

Pray this prayer over your sin and the sin of your community over this weekend:

Lord, we see ourselves in scriptures from this week.
Like the religious leaders, we protest our innocence with bloody hands.
Like the woman, we are naked, stripped, and discovered in sin.
Like the blind man, Lord, we are steeped in sin.
Like the dead man, Lord, we are dead in sin.

Lord, we want to see.
Heal our eyes so we can see our sin.
Lord, we want to confess.
Show us our sin so we can weep over it.
Lord, we want to sin no more.
Cover our nakedness and give us your purpose and power to live as we are called.
Lord, we want to wake up.
Call us from our whitewashed tombs of empty righteousness.
Untie our grave clothes and strip us of the trappings of this world.
Let us walk into the light and follow your loving voice.

* Ain’t No Grave, Cageless Birds

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6

Today’s Readings
Exodus 33 (Listen – 3:49)
John 12 (Listen – 6:26)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 34 (Listen – 5:48) John 13 (Listen – 5:06)
Exodus 35 (Listen – 4:31) John 14 (Listen – 4:13)

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Joel’s admonition is to go beyond public signals of mourning or confession. It is our heart that we must rend in mourning and confession, because God looks at the heart, not our outward appearance.