Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18 NIV)
I find that my most embarrassing moments at church tend to also be the most poignant. My most embarrassing church moment thankfully came on a Sunday off, sitting in the back pew of a church rather than standing at the front for all to see. This church was a Pentecostal church, but it did not seem to be a very lively Pentecostal church, indeed the people present could have passed for Presbyterians in their expressiveness, but I was definitely being a typical Baptist, being in the back pew and all. The embarrassment came during the song “How Great is Our God.” A simple enough song, and simply done but for some reason on that morning I was really struck. The tears flowed from somewhere very deep and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I wanted to alright, especially as I seemed to be the only one expressing any emotion at the time, but there was no tap for the waterworks. I had an overwhelming sense of the greatness of God and smallness of myself. I tell you this, not so that you will think that I am super-spiritual (because I’m not), or that I am “losing it” (because I haven’t, yet!), but to remind you that God does make Himself known, and that knowing Him can be a deeply emotional experience.
How often do we pray that simple prayer of Moses, “Now, show me your glory”? We may pray often, with our petitions, intercessions, and pleas for God’s guidance and the strength to follow, but how often do we find ourselves praying with Moses, “now show me your glory”? James MacDonald in his book, Vertical Church points out that this prayer of Moses is answered by God through a deep experience of His presence which you can read about in Exodus 33. To experience God’s glory is to experience God’s presence. Isaiah gives us another great prayer that we don’t pray often enough:
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! (Isaiah 64:1, 2 NIV)
Perhaps we don’t pray this kind of prayer often because we have in our minds the very true idea that God is omnipresent. But we can point to times and places where God’s presence has been more evident, more palpable, more of an experience held in the heart than a truth held in the mind. James MacDonald in the aforementioned book would say that we confuse the omnipresence of God with the manifest presence of God.
Have you ever experienced that real heart filling, perspective changing presence of God? If you have trusted in Jesus you will. You may experience it someday when you least expect it. You will experience it on that day when we are ushered into God’s presence in glory, in the hereafter. And when we experience that presence and glory of God we will worship, not out of obligation, nor with an eye on the clock, but with joyful and humble hearts that desire to bring Him glory.
Why do we bother with church? Because this is the people with whom we seek God’s glory, to see it, and to bring it, then to live it. Do the prayers of Moses to see God’s glory, or of Isaiah to experience God’s presence sound like your prayers? To gather together Sunday by Sunday is to make being in His presence, our lives bringing Him honour, the prayer of our hearts.