There is a scene in the Book of Exodus revealing an encounter between God and Moses. God has just commanded Moses to lead the people away from the holy mountain, the place where they’ve been dwelling after their escape from Egypt’s oppression. God is inviting Moses to take the people into the land that was promised to their ancestors – to Abraham and Sarah and Hagar, to Isaac and Rebecca, to Jacob and Rachel and Leah. At this point, God and Moses have been through a lot together. From the burning bush, to confronting pharaoh and the plagues, from tasting freedom to being pursued by pharaoh’s army, from the parting of the sea to arriving in safety at the holy mountain, and it is written that they spoke together as neighbors, as friends. Godly Play describes prophets as people who come so close to God, and God comes so close to them, that they just know what God wants them to do, to say. (Ironic to recall that in the beginning of their relationship, Moses was worried that he couldn’t be a good spokesperson for God, because he didn’t speak well, because he stuttered and stammered.)
At this point in the story, God and Moses have been through a lot together. They’ve built trust together. God has revealed God’s hopes for the people of Israel – they will be the people who will reveal God’s love to everyone. God will shape them, teach them, guide them in the best ways to live with God and with each other.
And now God is asking Moses to lead the people from the safety and certainty of the holy mountain into someplace new and unknown. God is asking the people to change, again. They have already been through so much – and much of it really good – and yet Moses hesitates to go along with it. Moses needs something from God, a little extra to help him continue to trust, to help him follow God with obedience so that he may lead the people with confidence. Moses asks God, “Let me see your Glory” (Exodus 33:18). The Hebrew word used here for glory is kavod, which carries the meaning of majesty, importance, honor, weight, heaviness. He asked to experience the weight of God’s Glory.
After all they’ve been through together, you’d think Moses wouldn’t need this kind of assurance or encouragement anymore. But he did. So he asked for what he needed. And God provided.
May we do the same. When we’re called upon to lead somewhere new, when the load we’re carrying feels like too much, when we’re feeling the discomfort of being stretched into a new way of being, may we find the courage to ask for what we need, the courage to turn to God and trust that we, too, will be filled with a vision of God’s Glory.