When I was growing up, my sisters and I loved to look at Highlights magazine. Our Aunt Jo would renew our subscription every year so that the magazines would keep showing up in our mailbox each month.
We liked to read the short stories and the jokes. We marveled at the drawings made by kids from all over the country. We shook our heads at Goofus and his bad choices in the “Goofus and Gallant” comic strips. We fought over who got to circle the answers in the “What’s Wrong?” and “Hidden Pictures” sections.
When my own children began to receive Highlights magazine, I realized some helpful tricks when looking for those sneaky “Hidden Pictures.” For instance, scanning the picture for things that seem slightly out of place usually leads to a hidden item—often a toothbrush, a pencil, or a bell.
If only everything we search for was found so easily.
When Moses had received the Ten Commandments and God was ready for him to lead them on to the Promised Land, Moses asked for some assurance of their success. He said, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”
It wasn’t as if Moses was unfamiliar with God’s ways. He had seen God’s power played out on a very large scale in Egypt. Even with his unusual access to God, he knew that much of God’s glory was hidden.
The parts of God he couldn’t see were frightening to Moses. He felt that in order to rely on Him and truly lead His people to and through Lord-knows-what, he had to improve his understanding of God, thereby distinguishing the whole group as something special. To Moses, God revealing His glory equaled God bestowing His favor.
Even if Moses didn’t/couldn’t comprehend what he was asking, God did. And God knew Moses was in for a real shocker.
The Lord told Moses He was pleased with him and He would grant his request, but with one caveat. The only way Moses would survive being exposed to such glory would be at an angle.
The Lord said, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live…There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 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. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
There is something so intimate and gentle about God covering Moses as he stands, trembling, in the crevice of a rock. It isn’t a forced showing of God’s splendor. After all, Moses asked for it. It’s a fatherly, protective action.
I wonder at times if God hides things from me for my own protection. There are elements of His character and motives behind His actions I will never, ever, ever understand. But the best possible response I could ask for is what the Lord told Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” and “I know you by name.”
Then, if I’m brave enough and my trust is in Him, I can respond like Moses and say: “Now show me your glory.”