Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.
The end of last week was painful. Generally I absorb clashes, funneling them inward to mull over as my emotions settle. This one has been hard to release, and I think I know why.
This conflict attacked my mission.
Of course the source of the conflict was not truly human at all, but the Enemy of Our Souls. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph.6:12. A trusted friend doubted me, and it annihilated me. I slashed back with defensiveness and anger. That was wrong. I should have responded with peaceful confidence, acknowledging her heart but standing securely, serenely, on what I know to be true about my character.
The conflict is over, resolved, settled. The Lord brought full truth and restoration. But it jolted me, and I was shuddered by aftershocks. If this trusted leader could question me like this, then I am not safe. Nobody will trust me or believe me. I’m disqualified from ministry still, in spite of what God has done to heal and redeem me over the years. This is too hard. I can’t handle this kind of personal and spiritual attack.
I spun out, skidded into a murky ditch of self-doubt and self-protection. (The enemy is not original, because His weapons have proven so effective. Fear, suspicion, shame, loss, regret.)
Then I started to think about Moses. Other than Jesus Christ, Moses was possibly the greatest leader who ever walked the earth. His life was steeped in relentless attack. Attack from his own people, as well as military attack from surrounding nations. Additionally, can you imagine the ugly haze of spiritual attack that must have surrounded the man carrying the mantle of the deliverance of God’s people?
There was a time when God’s presence nearly left Israel. Moses had left the Israelite camp to receive the covenant from the Lord on Mount Sinai, leaving his brother Aaron the deputy leader in his place. Aaron promptly built a calf-shaped idol out of the women’s gold jewelry and led the people in a frenzy of pagan revelry. Moses returned, the covenant cut in stone in his arms, and discovered God’s people in their wild betrayal. The faithful Levites swept through the camp, swords in hand, striking down their fickle comrades in cleansing judgment. But God had more to teach Moses.
Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the pagan peoples before you. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way. Exodus 33:1-3.
Did you catch the great consequence, the unutterable tragedy? I will not go up in your midst. God had already commissioned Moses to lead the people into the Promised Land, and God always keeps His word. But the terrible faithlessness of the Israelite people caused God’s face to turn from them in righteous anger. The solution was simple: fulfill the mission, remove His presence.
What kind of attachment do we have to our missions? I’m attached to mine. My heart is set on it. But what if I had the choice Moses did? This was his response –
Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” Exodus 33:12-13.
Moses responded by begging God for intimate relationship. He would not accept the fulfillment of his mission at the expense of God’s presence. I fall to my knees in slain conviction every time I read this precious passage of Scripture. It re-aligns my heart. My mission is not my dream; it is God’s dream. My only dream is to sit at His feet and bask in His presence.
Then God said this to Moses –
And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex.33:14.
O, I weep even as I type it out. This is what sustained Moses through his extraordinary life, hazy with attack, but flaming with God’s intimate presence. This is what made Moses a remarkable leader. He was a man who made God’s Presence his only mission.
I do not aspire to be a leader comparable to the monumental Moses, but I do desire to walk courageously and faithfully in my own microcosm of influence. I will let everything slip through my fingers (He will catch it, and hold it to His glory) while I cry out, like Moses, for a deeper portion of my God’s mighty and tender Presence.