Things seemed to be falling apart. He had been talking to God, listening to God, following God, trusting God. Even when it wasn’t easy and even though people sometimes ridiculed him, he continued to pursue God. Sure, he argued with God a little now and then, questioning why God would let circumstances be so hard. Still, even when he felt tired enough to fall down, he looked for, listened to and followed God.
There were days when things looked hopeful. He spent lots of time alone with God and seemed to understand better their relationship and God’s plans. God truly listened to him and truly spoke to him. God gave him instructions he understood clearly. God provided for him. God showed His power. In those moments, with his eyes fixed on God, other concerns faded.
After a personal retreat for a particularly close and special time with God, he returned to his family and friends only to find they had abandoned God. They previously had their own relationships with God but they gave up on following Him when things looked bleak. He saw the change in their lives and, even though both he and God were angered by their behaviors and their choices, he chose to pray for God to forgive them.
He must have felt so alone, betrayed by the lack of faith displayed by his family and closest friends. When he wanted to have that community around him and share with them his meaningful experience with God, they weren’t there for him the way he would have liked. Yet he loved his family and friends enough to continue to advocate for them, pleading with God not to abandon them the way they had abandoned Him. God listened and forgave. In fact, after another personal retreat where he encountered God even more intimately than before, his family and friends could see a change in him. He literally looked different to them and they listened to him. Things didn’t go perfectly for them from that day forward, but they again looked to God together and followed Him.
This is the story of Moses (Exodus 32-34), but it may feel and sound a lot like our stories today. We represent different characters in this story at different moments. At times we are Moses, earnestly seeking God and honestly baring our souls to Him as we intercede on behalf of others. We identify with the isolation he must have felt, even when surrounded by other people. Like Moses, we feel deeply a range of emotions including gratitude, despair, fascination and uncertainty. At other times we are Moses’ family and friends, people who know God’s power but sometimes choose to look elsewhere for answers. We fall into groupthink and follow the influence of others when our eyes are not fixed on God.
As we travel hard and uncertain paths, may we be to one another a faithful and supportive community of believers and may we all be transformed by our time spent with God. His word to us is the same as it was to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 32:14, NIV). - Kathy Raines, Minister of Administration