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We moved to Nashville from Minneapolis just under a year ago, largely at God’s leading. We lived in Minneapolis for 10 years, serving our local church, ministering to college students, and building friendships that were closer even than family. Needless to say, it was a painful transition, and I am still adjusting.
What do I miss the most? The friendships. The family of God that experienced all of our lives with us and walked with us through seasons of joy, sorrow, anger, celebration, and everything in between. Friendship is a beautiful gift from God that, when cultivated, brings so much fruit even for generations to come.
How lovely is it, then, that God chose to refer to Moses as His friend? I had to dig deeper into this relationship and, quite frankly, I was struck by what I saw in the friendship that was between Moses and God. How did Moses get to that point? What did it even look like? Surprisingly, it looked a lot like what I have experienced with my own deep, connected friendships.
I think the most poignant picture of this friendship can be seen in Exodus chapters 29 - 33. Moses goes up to Mount Sinai where he meets with God and receives the commandments. While he is there, the people go crazy and start worshipping idols. Moses petitions God not to destroy everyone in His anger and, friends, God relents because of Moses’ petition. God turns away from His wrath because of Moses’ cry for mercy. Though that’s beautiful, it isn’t my favorite part. Moses goes down the mountain, sees the sin of the people, and Moses is immediately angry.
Have you ever been here with your trusted friend? What hurts you hurts them and vice versa? I know I’ve been ready to go to war with others on behalf of my best friends. Our hearts are united so we defend each other’s cause. That’s how it was with Moses and God! Moses spent time with God and, because God loves Moses, He relents but it doesn’t end there because Moses becomes so knit to the heart of his Father and Friend that he takes up His cause! Moses gets so angry that he forces the Israelites to choose between God or their idols right then and there. Oh, that my heart would be so knitted to God that the things that hurt and anger Him would hurt and anger me. Moses immediately makes the people choose God or their idols because He knows that God alone is to be worshipped. Why? Because He’s been with Him, knows His heart, and shares His righteous anger.
Lest we get stuck on the anger, let’s look ahead. After all of that drama, God meets with Moses again and promises this: that He will be slow to anger, rich in love, forgiving and compassionate and and because of this love, He will disciple us and work out the stuff that keeps us distant from Him. God’s mercy, love, and compassion is a rich river, waiting to wash over all your stuff, but it is also a cleansing force, not allowing sin to remain. He will disciple us in His mercy. He will allow us to feel the consequences of sin while walking every difficult step with us because He loves us so much. Being God’s friend means allowing the purifying of our hearts while we walk in complete vulnerability and openness before Him.
Maybe the most amazing part of the narrative is that, after spending time with God, Moses can’t even be looked at because of the radiance on his face. Oh, friends how God longs for us to speak to Him face-to-face, as with a friend. He wants to reveal Himself to us, to delight in us and for us to delight in Him. He is our presence, our hope, the glory and the lifter of our head. Without His presence, His mercy, compassion, grace, love, and discipline, we are no different than anyone else around us and let me tell you, I want to be different! I want to be known because I have been with Jesus and I am changed. My face can’t contain the joy of spending time with my Friend, the creator of the Universe, and everyone knows it!
There is a rich deposit of the presence of Jesus waiting for you right now. It is literally a breath away. It is the next thought you think, the next word you speak. It is in the broken, humble places that the Lord meets us and talks to us, as one talks face-to-face with a friend. I’m ready for that friendship. How about you?