The text was basic enough: the difference between knowing God, as Moses did, and knowing about God, as many of us in the church claim to without really having a relationship with Him.
But what got me thinking was this text.
It is easy to see people who have a true intimacy with God and want what they have. It is quite another thing to persevere and take the risks to get it.
Like the Hebrews, we are not always willing to risk hearing from God. They heard God speaking from the mountain and were not drawn to him, but instead repulsed and terrified of Him. What were they afraid of, and are we fearful enough I wonder, but that is another post. The people asked Moses to go speak for them. Was it because they knew he had a connection with God or because they were tired of following Moses and it seemed like an easy way to off him?
And like the Hebrews, we are not always willing to wait on God's timing. In a short 40 days, that must have seemed like an eternity, they waited until the fear was too much. Making for themselves a controllable god, they used the jewelry the Egyptians had given them and fashioned a calf. Now, I cannot think of why that would be an acceptable god, except it wasn't threatening, didn't call to them from the mountain, didn't discipline them, and didn't ask them to go on wild chases through unknown lands, but it gave them some vague sense of security.
Lest you think I am being hard on the poor people, my thought instead is: don't we have our own golden calves?
When God seems far away and slow to answer, I rely on my talents, my own type of gold given to me. I work hard, and keep plugging away, until something gives-usually me. Then I am reminded that my own strength is not enough and all my talents cannot give me the peace I want. Somehow they actually highlight how inadequate I am without God.
Sometimes I rely on work to give me a sense of identity and worth, as my calf. Hoping that if I do a good enough job I will be recognized as worthy, only to find myself burnt out, begging God for rest.
Some people live vicariously through their children, only to be in distress and alone when the children leave home. Some cling ferociously to religion, only to find empty dogma.
The gold calves do not "go before us" to secure us, but imprison and entangle us.
We cannot make a neat, boxed god. There is only one God, and there is no box large enough to contain Him, nor is life in relationship with Him neat and orderly. And, once you experience His adventure, it is difficult to turn away.
Life is hard; there is no doubt of this. But He tells us to seek out the lost, comfort the hurting, heal the sick, free the bound. It is an exhilarating adventure for a passionate soul. But too often ours, and mine, are weak. Forty days feels so empty and long to wait. To go it alone is terrifying. Then, at the oddest moment, He peeks out, to gently remind us that He is walking near. Our child-like heart is at once both excited and hurt. Why won't He walk right with me? It would be so much easier, wouldn't it? Perhaps, but perhaps that is not His way. A parent who holds their child constantly will prevent that little one from walking, exploring. Perhaps God's "Where's Waldo" game is meant to teach us that we can follow Him without being held.
I write these blogs more for me, then for anyone who may take the time to read. I need to be reminded of how fun the divine hide and seek is. I need to remember that He will show up again. I need to remember the thrill of the adventure. It may not be the safe road, but it is certainly the most satisfying, and, ultimately, the only one I would choose, despite my whining.
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you!"
From the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis