Show me Your glory

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.    (I Kings 19:11-13)

I have had a long-standing fascination with God’s glory.  I’ve said it before, but I am simply in awe of the stories where God shows up.  I live in a place of anticipation, hoping and wondering what he will do next.  The story above of Elijah and the story of Moses on Mt. Sinai, these are two of my favorites.

God told Elijah to go stand on the mountain, for the Lord is about to pass by.  {Whoo!  I get goosebumps thinking about it.}  Then a great wind came, but God was not in the wind.  The came an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake.  Then came a fire, but God was not in the fire.  After all of these came a gentle whisper…. And he knew this was the Lord.

I don’t know about you but I tend to expect God to be somewhere in the wind, earthquake and fire… but I am learning, practicing and seeking to find God in his gentle whisper.  I’m tempted to think that when I don’t feel the wind and earthquake or see the fire that God must not be near… but I have found that he is longing for me to know his voice – that still small voice.

When the twins first moved in with us we could not tell them apart at all.  Seriously.  One of them had a white sun-spot-dot on her cheek and that was the closest thing that we could identify as a distinguishing mark.  Once summer passed that white dot faded and we were in trouble.  I promise you they heard “which one are you” more times than they ever heard their names.

But then something happened.  Over time I could tell them apart by their voices.  I kid you not, the first way I was able to distinguish them was by the different tone of their chipmunk voices.

I will say it was helpful one day when Elisabeth got a hair barrette stuck between her front two teeth that resulted in a gap… then we had a definite tell to distinguish them.  But still to this day, knowing their voices gives me the most confidence.

In the same way I have learned in relationship that knowing God’s voice is the key to finding him – in the midst or in the absence of the wind, quake and fire my heart must be tuned to hear his voice, even when it is a whisper.

Similarly to Elijah, in a place of frustration and desperation, Moses cried out to God, show me your glory.  I admire their determination.  That’s a pretty bold thing to request.  I find it interesting that in both instances God sent them to the mountain and honored their request.  The thing that is so striking to me about Moses’ experience is that God’s response to him is I will let my goodness pass before you and I will proclaim my name before you.  (Exodus 33:19a)

The next day Moses climbs up the mountain and did what the Lord commanded him.

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness and truth;”  Exodus 34:6

All Moses could do was bow down and worship.  When he heard the voice of the Lord calling out his own goodness –  his first response was worship.

These two stories are so significant to me.  I haven’t yet comprehended all the reasons why this resonates within me, but it has something to do with two key things:  1) his gentle whisper and 2) his glory is known through his goodness.

Moses prayed “show me your glory”; God responded with, this is who I am.  I am compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness and truth.  You want to see my glory?  See my goodness.

Around this time last year I wrote the post, Name the Graces.  Obviously I’m still in the place of seeking to see God’s glory.  I’m beginning to see a theme here; maybe God is trying to show me something.  So I have been practicing asking God to show me his goodness, in everything.  Naming the graces, even when things don’t look the way I want.

When I have thoughts that say I didn’t get something right, an unanswered prayer is obviously punishment for all the ways I have fallen short, or who am I to think I deserve God’s goodness…. I am able to test them against his words in Exodus.  I am compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness and truth…  and I can hear his gentle whisper reminding me that he never changes.  His goodness is more than I can imagine, and his love for me is overwhelming.  Yes, I may miss the mark and need correcting, but he does so with loving-kindness. It’s in knowing his still small voice that I am able to recognize his goodness, and I’m humbled.

And from that place, I am motivated – not just to recognize his goodness but to be a channel of his goodness.  I don’t share my story simply for my own benefit… my sincere desire is that through our story you are able to see God’s glory.  Y’all, I fail, daily.  Some days I am embarrassed to even be called a parent.  Just the other day I found myself half-way yelling at a child that if I had to tell her one more time to do “something” I was going to eat her cookie right in front of her…. Because that is grace.  Clearly, that is grace.  I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back and apologize for my mistakes just from recognizing that what I am saying is not giving my girls a good picture of who God is.  I want to offer grace, I want to correct with loving-kindness, I want to ooze compassion….  But sometimes the best I can do is put me in safety break!

I am learning.  The more I spend time hearing and knowing God’s still small voice, searching out his goodness and experiencing his grace, the more I am able to offer these things to my girls.  Because when the wind blows, the earth shakes and the fire roars… I long for them to know his gentle whisper.

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