How far is too far?


I just finished reading the gospel of Luke again, I read it over a few days, several chapters at a time like a novel. It was great!! As I read the last chapter I was reminded of a challenge from Holy Spirit that I had felt recently. It’s a small phrase in the account of the walk to Emmaus. Jesus and the two disciples come to the place they were to lodge for the night and Jesus makes as if he is carrying on. The disciple’s response is to beg Jesus to stay.
This moment reminds me of the interactions between Moses and God in Exodus 33. The chapter starts out with God laying out his plan of action. He’s going to send an angel with Moses and the Israelites into the Promised Land, the angel will ensure their complete success; that way he (God) doesn’t have to go with them since he would destroy the people because they are so infuriating! We are then painted a picture of the relationship between Moses and God and given a sample of one of their conversations. In this interaction Moses basically says ‘no deal’ to God’s plan not to go with him and the Israelites.
In the stories, Moses and the two disciples both press God until he relents and stays.
Here’s the thing. In both cases God is delighted with the process and the outcome; in fact it seems to have been precisely what he was looking for. My problem is that if it had been me, I would have simply gone along with things, lived with the disappointment but not thought to challenge God. How many times have I been in God’s presence, sensed him stir and lift away, and my response has been just to move on? What if from the depths of my heart I were to pursue him and beg him to stay?
Now, I know that God is with us all the time, he is everywhere. There are however moments and places where I am more aware of his presence – with my body, soul and spirit – one on one times between me and God. There is too a question of desire, how much do I want to meet with him? What if meeting him does mean I die or at least am changed for ever? Is that too high a price to pay? For Moses it wasn’t, he knew what the risks were, and yet…
And the two disciples, I hear you say that they didn’t realise it was Jesus at the time. Quite; but they themselves reflect on the resonance and connection that took place in their hearts as they walked with Jesus. There was something about this person; something inside them felt that they must be with him as long as possible… and so they begged him to stay.
Through his relationship with Moses and the relationship between Jesus and his disciples, God models something to us. He reveals his ultimate desire for relationship with you and with me; relationship where there is mutual trust, friendship and the simple desire to be in each other’s company. He looks for that desire and he is quick to respond. This in no way minimises his Holiness and the consequence for sin entering his presence. But as with Moses and the Israelites we can have two responses to that reality: The Israelites declined the chance to meet with God, sent Moses in their stead and opted for a relationship based on external rules and action that would keep God at arm’s length. Moses on the other hand went into the lightning storm opting for a relationship based on personal encounter and first hand acquaintance with his God.
How much do I desire to be with God?

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