By: Cynthia Yanof
A show of hands, please, for those of you obsessed with Old Testament stories like I am.
I think there are so many fascinating accounts of God’s sovereignty and how he relates personally to his people in order to fulfill his larger purposes.
One of the Old Testament passages that always grabs me is in Exodus 33. This is when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and God gives him the Ten Commandments. Moses then goes to talk to the Israelites. (This is after the golden calf debacle and the breaking of the original tablets.)
For a little context, Moses asked to see God’s glory, and the Lord said no: “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). However, he does agree to allow Moses to stand in a protected spot in the cleft in a rock so he can see God’s back.
And so Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai, which leads to my favorite part:
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Exodus 34:29–31
When Moses saw God
The Bible I happen to be reading from right now has subtitled this section as “The Radiant Face of Moses.”
Stop and think about this for a minute. Moses saw God, and his appearance was physically changed. He was RADIANT!
I spend time with God frequently, and I don’t recall anyone recoiling when I walk in the room because I am so radiant. Pasty white because it’s winter? Yes. But radiant from an encounter with God? Nope.
Moses’ time with God had a noticeable effect on his appearance, and it wasn’t just a one-time deal. It kept happening. Every time he stood in the presence of God, he radiated with God’s glory. But as time passed and he wasn’t with God, his face would dim.
I wonder if that’s true for us.
What do you expect?
Be honest. When you sit down with the Lord, do you have a sense of expectation that you will walk away changed? When you walk away from your time with the Lord, are you already excited about what the Lord will reveal tomorrow?
Or, gradually, has your time with the Lord been reduced to another step in your daily routine? Do you sit down with your Bible anticipating what God wants to say to you each day, or do you oftentimes just read the words and check the proverbial box?
I think many of us are guilty of setting the bar too low when it comes to spending time with the Lord. We’re content with less than true transformative encounters that impact everything we do in our daily lives. Sadly, you can look around and see that many of our fellow believers join us in having faces that are anything but radiant.
But there’s hope!
How do you prepare?
Unlike Moses, most of us will not literally see the glory of God this side of heaven; however, in 2 Corinthians 3:17–18, Paul reminds us that as believers—by faith—we see the glory of Jesus Christ through the word of God. And it’s when we study his word and have glimpses of his greatness that we experience spiritual transformation.
Okay, so here are a few practical thoughts.
What do we do on our end to prepare for our encounters with the Lord?
Moses had been praying and fasting for eighty days when this all went down in Exodus. It’s no surprise that he had such a direct encounter with the Lord leading to a complete change in his physical appearance. He was totally dialed in to God.
What do you ask for when you spend time with the Lord? Do you ask the Lord to fix hard situations, or have you asked him to reveal himself in the midst of them?
If you’re discouraged in some areas of your life and frustrated that you aren’t getting glimpses of God, have you followed Moses’ lead and fasted? When did you last earnestly pray for God to show you a glimpse of his glory?
So, now you’re probably asking what all this has to do with parenting.
What your kids know
Here’s the deal: we cannot parent our kids well if we don’t encounter the Lord in such a way that our countenance is transformed.
We may not have an illuminated face like Moses, but it should be unmistakable that the Lord is working in our lives and transforming us into his image. It’s a higher calling of parenting than just doing what’s culturally acceptable. We are running in God’s lane, and that’s going to mean we’ve got to put in the work in the less traditional, but more successful lanes: in God’s word.
The other night, I was being short with our middle son and he knew it. He asked me if I had gotten enough sleep the night before. Ha! Probably not. But wouldn’t it have been cool if he had asked if I had spent time with the Lord that day?
He knew my patience was shot, I was tired of answering questions, and my face wasn’t radiating (so to speak). It says a lot that he asked if I had gotten enough sleep—and not if I had spent time with the Lord.
Maybe he knows more about my priorities than I think.
Is your face shining?
Just ponder this as we wrap up.
Moses’ face was white because it was a reflection of God’s glory. Moses didn’t even know it was white until people reacted to him. Isn’t that beautiful?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if our time with God was so transformative and real that we ended up reflecting the glory of God in ways we didn’t even recognize? What if we walked away each morning with God’s glory written all over us in ways that spilled out in everything we did—but we didn’t even know it?
So, back to where we started: Is your face shining?
Don’t stop until you find the answer. Tangibly encountering God is a game changer in our parenting, our marriage, our friendships, our witness—in everything we do. I challenge you this week to put on your very best face. Skip the Botox, forego the chemical peels, and put away the masks in exchange for a lasting face change that comes from prioritizing time with the Lord.
Those around you won’t mistake it. And the Lord anxiously awaits it.