I've been reading through the Old Testament. I've made my way through the Genesis adventures. Falling more in love with the flawed characters. I find my pride and vulnerability in Eve. I find my anger and jealousy in Cain. I find my lust and curiosity for sin in Lot's wife (who looked back just one more time). I remember my infertility in Sarah AND find my stubborn wantonness in her as well. I find my desire to obey, lead and commune with God in Abraham. In Joseph, I find my loneliness and favor with God. And in Moses, I find a person who was willing to enter the darkness to find God.
I relate to that.
Exodus 20 is where God is giving the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people of Israel. He gives the "Thou shalt nots..." and then at the end of the chapter, beginning in verse 18 and ending in verse 21, the people respond...in fear. When God's presence appeared before them belting out His Commandments, it wasn't accompanied by a string quartet as its soundtrack. It was stinkin' scary. God's presence was brought through thunder, lightning, trumpet sounds and a smoking mountain.
So picture this, God's about to talk to you and give you His law and the sky turns black, and lightning, so bright, so electric, begins flashing through the sky that it looks like heaven is falling. And then lightning gives way to its voice: THUNDER. Thunder so loud and so quick that when you try to count, "One one thousand...two one thousand..." you can only get to "One...." and then lightning flashes and thunder crashes and you realize, "well, this is how I'm going to die. I sure hope my...uh, camels and goats are in order" (b/c you're an Israelite in the desert so all you've got are camels and goats). And then through the deafening thunder you hear a trumpet. So loud, that you can't help but look up at the treacherous sky because you want to find the source of the sound of the trumpet that is shredding your eardrums. But your eyes don't find the trumpet. Instead, they find that the mountain you're standing at the foot of is smoking. You're standing at the foot of a smoking mountain in a crazy lightning storm in high winds and all you can think of is "Oh dang. This mountain is going to erupt. THIS is how I'm going to die. Goodbye camels and goats."
And then through it all, the lightning, thunder, trumpet, and smoke, you hear the scariest, mightiest, holiest thing you've ever or will ever experience, the voice of God. And the sound of His voice makes the rest of the "show" look like the opening number from an episode of "Glee."
And you're afraid. Very afraid.
So afraid, that when God stops talking, you push Moses to the front and say,
"Okay, buddy. You go, you deal with HIM. We'll stay back here. You brought us here, you're our guy. We took a vote and it's unanimous! Go ahead. We'll cheer you on! Hip Hip Hooray! M - O - S - E - S...you must be the GREATEST, BEST! GGGGOOOOOOO MOSES!"
And you stay behind because you don't want to die. You're sure that to be close to God's presence is sudden and certain death. And Moses is like, "Don't be such a skeerdy cat! Don't fear God, R-E-S-P-E-C-T Him and obey Him and you won't have a problem with Him."
But Exodus 20:21 (NKJV) nails it. It says:
"So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was."
God's presence was covered in darkness. Darkness is a terrifying place for me to be. I like to be in control. I can't control what I cannot see and I cannot see in the darkness.
But the places I have been closest to God have been in the darkest places.
The aftermath of my Dad's suicide. Darkness. Pitch black. And God was there and He rescued me.
The time I miscarried twins. Darkness. Hopeless. And God was there and He rescued me.
The next time I miscarried a baby. Darkness. Despair. And God was there and He rescued me.
The time my marriage was falling apart. Darkness. Black. And God was there and He rescued me.
The time I almost gave completely in to my selfishness, sin, flesh, temptations. Darkness. And God was there and He rescued me.
God has not left us. Especially when it's dark. His presence is in the darkness. You're not alone. You may not be able to see, but that's okay, Jesus has this way of giving sight to the blind.