Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stop Trying So Hard!

At tonight's Bible study, we talked about how Moses asked to see God's glory, but he could not see his face; God only allowed him to see his back:

Exodus 33:18-3:

18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

21 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

This reminded me of a time when I asked to see God's face, and instead he showed me another vision....

Excerpt from my journal, Saturday 7/10/04:
I was reading Jenny's book this morning.... What resonated with me was Jenny's shame over her obsession
with her "earthly tent." God told her it didn't matter at all what shape her earthly tent was in--that she is weak and utterly dependent on him, and she needs to remember that.

And then she felt that she was swaying in Jesus' arms, and that he told her to lift up her head (which was bowed in shame). She looked up into his face. She let him look on her with love even though she was crying.

That awareness of Jesus' love is what I need so desperately. I know I must still be thinking that I must work harder to earn his love. I know with my mind that Jesus loves me no matter what I do, how I perform. Yet my heart can't seem to fathom that truth.

Jesus, I wish I could see you in my mind's eye as Jenny does. I have never been able to truly picture anything, let alone your face. Would you give me that gift, Jesus? I long to look upon your face, to see the love in your eyes. I believe it would transform me....

I tried to picture Jesus then, but I didn't see anything. Just red and black through my eyelids. I imagined standing and facing Jesus, with both of my hands held in his. I looked up, trying to see his face as he looked on me in love. But I couldn't see him. I had a deep sorrow and frustration over this. Why can't I see him? For a moment, I wanted to throw down my journal and say, "Forget it! I've been imagining the whole thing. I can never know Jesus."

But I don't want to do that. I know faith isn't based on what I see or what I feel. It's based on the knowledge of Him. And I know he's been teaching me over these last weeks....

I did end up seeing something, but not what I had asked for. It was basically a vision, though it was based on a childhood memory. I didn't just remember it, but I lived that moment over again with adult eyes....

I was small, about 5 or 6. I had gotten a jump rope for my birthday, and I was trying to learn how to jump. I kept tripping over it. I was sobbing uncontrollably, anger and frustration surging through me. I threw down the jump rope and said I didn't care about the stupid thing anyway.

I can't remember if this actually happened in real life, but in this vision, my mother was holding me close and telling me it was okay, that it was supposed to be fun. I felt so loved and understood and chagrined, and I knew it was Jesus hugging me with my mother's arms.

Now I feel the same way I did that day, ready to throw in the towel because I am so impatient. And Jesus is standing by, ready to comfort and encourage me. "You'll get it. Keep trying. Don't give up."

I run to him. I bury my head in his chest and cry. He strokes my hair and says, "It's okay. I love you."

And I say, choking on sobs, "But I wanted to do it. I tried so hard." And I realize that is the problem. I am trying too hard.

He says, "Let me teach you."

Thank you for speaking to me, Jesus. I see now how very childish I am emotionally and spiritually. I realize that I can't grow up overnight. But if I trust and obey, you will teach me and train me. You will transform me....

When I was closing my eyes, trying to see you, I thought I heard you say, "You are mine." I'm so glad you love me, that you aren't put off by my tantrum.

Four Years Later
I still struggle with trying too hard, but God continues to reveal little pieces of himself to me. I have moments of sheer amazement at his character and weeks of doubt. I can see that I have grown. I still haven't seen Jesus' face, and it turns out Jenny hadn't either. (I'd misunderstood her words.) I guess it's like God told Moses; no one can look on His face and live. I guess we will have to wait until we see Him face to face in heaven.


Melissa Irwin said...

There is amazing insight here. I love the paralell of being hugged and embraced by Jesus through your mothers arms.

I think really that it is possible if we focus too much on seeing his face....we miss seeing everything else....his hands, feet, his breath, his arms, trunk, back, shoulders, and His kingdom. Seeing Him is not the same as being Him...and that is the challenge he truly sets before us.

I'm doing a study right now with my bible study girls...a Beth Moore study called Jesus The One and Only.....it is amazing...if you haven't done it yet. More has been revealed to me in a different light about His character than I ever noticed before. I still don't know what His face looks like, but I am more in love with Him everyday.

Thank you for sharing such delicate and tender pages of your journal. You're a beautiful princess!

Sarah said...

Melissa, I had never thought about Jesus' hands, feet, breath, etc.! And since WE are the body of Christ, I guess if I want to see him I can just look at my brothers and sisters.

Thank you for giving me a new perspective.

I have not done that Beth Moore study. I will try to do that one when my regular study finishes. I've done one study of hers years ago, and I really grew through it.

Melissa Irwin said...

OH shoot! I would loved to have met you!!!!!!!!! Goodness gracious. Ok, that can never happen again. My email address is melissa@melissairwin.com... k?


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