Reading: Exodus 24:17
When I was growing up, and even as an adult, my mom was my hero. She always seemed to know exactly what to do. In life I’m learning there are varying degrees of strong, and there are different types of strong, and each one is unique and significant. Some people’s strong comes from a sense of confidence, or an analytical mind that sees ways to solve problems. My mom’s strong came through adversity and persistence. I remember being equal parts proud of her and hoping to be just like her, and terrified of what I would have to go through myself to be like her. What people who benefit from the spiritual strength of others fail to realize is that strength is not free. There’s a price to knowing how to navigate life’s hardest events. There’s a price to knowing how to pray for someone because you’ve already been through what they’re going through. The anointing is not free.
I read this verse this week, and it reminded me a little of my mom. Exodus 24:17 says, “To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.”
Here’s some background on what this verse was referring to: Moses had been instructed by God to come alone and approach the Lord while the elders of Israel worshipped at a distance. It was during this encounter that Moses would receive instructions on the construction of the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the priestly garments, the consecration of the priest, the 10 commandments— all the things that the people would need in order to have God come down and live among them. But it was something he alone was called to do. Other people could pray for him, and they could surround him from a distance, and they could watch, but they could not go for him. And so he went, and Exodus 24 says that for 6 days, the Lord spoke to Moses from a cloud surrounding Mt. Sinai, and then on the seventh day he was invited into the cloud, and he stayed there for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time God spoke to him.
I read this and I’m amazed that someone could speak one on one with God in that kind of way, but think about it from the perspective of the Elders who were waiting some distance away. Moses is in this cloud, and he’s talking to God, and he’s having this incredible experience that he could only have by being obedient to his calling. But to everyone else, the mountain appeared to be a consuming fire. The Message translation says, “In the view of the Israelites below, the Glory of God looked like a raging fire at the top of the mountain.”
This was the same experience— from Moses’ side as well as from the Israelites, the same thing was happening. God was speaking to Moses. But the appearance from each side was completely different. Moses knew he was talking to God. The people watching saw only fire. They saw only waiting. He was in the cloud 40 days according to the scriptures. These bystanders watched a mountain burn with their friend standing on the top for 40 days. I wonder if they thought he was gone forever. I wonder if they thought he was destroyed. But he wasn’t. He was having one of the most incredible encounters with God recorded in all of scripture.
And so it was with my mother. And apparently so it is to be with me. The whole world appears to be on fire, and even I myself wonder sometimes if I will be consumed, and the people around me (at least those I trust enough to be completely honest with) probably wonder if I will survive the obstacles that have been placed in my path. But the truth is that I’m encountering God in a way that I haven’t before. Maybe in a way that I couldn’t. It’s costing me something. Maybe it’s costing me everything. But I can’t help but think it’s worth it, and now my mom is even more my hero because I get it. I know how she got the level of strong that she got. And she’d tell you it’s worth it too. If your mountain is on fire, sit and listen. See if maybe God is inviting you into the glory. What other people think is going to burn you up is an invitation to communion with the Father. —Amanda