[The LORD] said [to Moses]: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
Moses receives this promise - a promise for all those who have been brought out of slavery in Egypt - from God after the original tablets of the law had been shattered. They were shattered as a sign of how immediately the Israelites had failed to uphold their part of the covenant with God - bowing before golden idols even before Moses could make it all the way down the mountain.
God's chosen people are flawed and fail, but God persists in
choosing to shine through them in a way that will eventually
draw all nations into right relations with the Divine.
Chapter 34 ends with the story of Moses spending so much time in God's presence that his face literally begins to shine with such brightness he has to wear a veil so the others can bear to look at him. We are meant to shine like that. I am meant to shine like that. But, make no mistake, it is not the glory of this world - of self-aggrandizement and simulated perfection - that we are to shine with.
God's promise is:
I will shine through you - despite your failures and flaws.
God is the light.
You are the veil allowing others to see what they can't otherwise bear.
This weekend I was at a family wedding. I was asked to say grace at the reception - probably because I am a pastor and that's kinda in my wheel house. I pray in public often, and I was happy to accept this invitation. But, as I prepared, something happened. God spoke to me. I was reminded of what God has been teaching me over the last several years about being a disciple that shines in a way that others can observe, endure and imitate. So, instead of just staying in my comfort zone and "doing my thing", I asked Tessa, Zephyra and Josiah to help me. (Solomon was off the hook because he still only speaks in tongues.) It was a bit of a risk. It took more time and practise than if I had just done it alone. Still, they were game, so we made a plan. Tessa would read a Psalm verse, the kids would help me lead everyone in a "fun" grace to the tune of the Jaws theme, and I would close with an "adult" grace.
Later that night, a friend of Tessa's parents made a point of coming over to talk to me. She mentioned that her date for the evening, who is not much interested in anything to do with church, said to her (upon her mention that I am a pastor),
"I can see why people would want to go to his church."
But, let's be clear: that was the result of God shining through my stumbling. You see, when the time came for grace, our little plan began to collapse almost immediately. Tessa was nursing Solomon, so she stayed at the table while I went to the mic with Josiah and Zephyra. The mic at the podium failed, so we were moved to the floor where no one could see or hear the kids. I quickly stood them up on a couple of chairs and prayed silently they wouldn't fall off while I read the psalm verse. After the "shark grace" (which actually went over very well) I moved quickly to get the children off their chairs before saying the actual and official blessing over the banquet. Just then the mc jumped in and started meal service.
We weaved back through the crowd to our table, having barely executed 1/3 of our plan for modelling a family in mission together. We blinked dimly, but somehow, God shone. I saw God's light shining in the faces of Z and J at having been invited to help with something so important. I saw the light of God within my introverted wife as she considered and then accepted the invitation to pray in this public way. I saw a halo appear around an assembly of banquet revellers as they blessed the LORD with their hands clasped atop their heads in the shape of shark fins. I saw God's light in the face of a woman excited that her loved one had gotten a taste of what life with God can be like if we are willing to set down our pretensions and baggage for but a moment.
(to the Jaws theme. Don't forget to put your fin on!)
God is ...
good and ...
God is ... great so ... let us ... thank God for this food.
(clap your hands together and say, CHOMP!)
Shine, Lord? Who, me?!? Okay!?!
Sounds scary and amazingly fun.
I'm not sure where to start. What's that? Start with where I'm
at and what we're already doing and You'll use that?
Shine, Lord! Wow! amen.