"Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me,
and you shall stand there on the rock;
and it will come about, while My glory is passing by,
that I will put you in the cleft of the rock
and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.…" Exodus 33:21-22
Some of us understand what it means to be invited to a place by God, and not want to go. Because that place next to Him is reached through a trial that makes our knees quake and our courage quiver. Because we KNOW, that this is an incredible privilege that will come with incredible responsibility, and we're not sure we're ready for it.
We want to go stand on that rock and see a glimpse of Who God is and what He is doing. But the journey to that place is sometimes full of pain, of pangs of loss, of prying-aparts and letting go's.And so even though we know it will be worth it all when we see Christ, we still hang back. We still hesitate.
A few years ago a charismatic church in our town had a big banner up on the side of their building. It was there easily six months or more. It said, "Yes, Lord, we will ride with You!" and to this day, I have no idea what it meant to them or what the biblical context was, if any, of the obscure saying. If I didn't, I'm quite sure none of the unbelievers in the community did either (which brings up an interesting side point about the arcane language believers use when they are speaking to people with little or no Bible knowledge.)
To be totally honest, my husband and I thought it was hilarious. It became a little catch-phrase in our house ("Yes, Mike, I WILL ride with you!") and it continued to elicit an internal giggle every time we drove past. Eventually they took it down and that was that.
Their enthusiasm has stayed with me, however. Whatever they were committing to, they were doing it in a public way. They were all in. No holds barred. Big banners like that don't come cheap, you know. I don't know how many of them actually did ride with the Lord, but they said they would, and I'm sure at least some of them really truly meant it.
So I think about that now, all these years later, and wonder if I'm the sort who immediately jumps on the pony and says, "I'm ready! Let's ride, Lord!" or if I'm the person who organizes the riding party, orders the banner, makes sure someone is signed up to bring bottled water, and plans the luncheon afterwards.
Maybe I'm the jaded one who thinks back to the ride we organized last year, and don't we all remember what a disaster that was. "I'm in, but put a different person in charge this time, and can we PLEASE not sing "Kum bye yah" along the trail EVER again?"
Maybe I'm more often the one who secretly dislikes the idea from the start, because let's face it, trail-riding, even with the Lord and a sure-footed cow-pony, is a painful proposition and the effect on the old derriere can last for days afterwards. It's way out of my comfort zone. I know, I know, the view from the top is amazing, yadda yadda.
I want to be the one who grabs the nearest pony and takes off after the Lord as He leads me to that place by him. I want to be the one who doesn't think about all the snaring branches, hidden holes, treacherous climbs and loose gravel along that path. I want to be the one who doesn't think first about the cost to my aging knees (I'm not even forty yet but my body hates me already, I swear) or how long the trip is going to take. The one who doesn't privately, secretly, never-gonna-admit-it-ever, wonders if the view from the top really IS worth it.
There is a place by You. I know that because I catch glimpses of it whenever I allow myself to see You at work, Your mercies overflowing, overwhelming, always right there just simmering under the surface of my life. All I have to do is open my stubborn eyelids or open Your Word and there You are. And I know in my heart that to be in that place is the best, the only place there ever will be where it IS worth it all.
Our good, good Father, thank You for the invitation to come to that place by You. The breath-takingly gracious place where we are so close to You and so in tune with Your Heart that we catch glimpses of Your infinite glory and it changes us forever. Forgive us for our wrong responses to that invitation, forgive us for rejecting the mercy that extends it. Our frightened reactions to the opportunity offered us would never happen if we truly understood Who You are. Your lovingkindness is better than life. Lead us to that place by You, not for our own sake, but for Your Glory, we pray. Amen.