The Back Side of God
May 14, 2014
And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23)
It happens to people every day. You see someone on a crowded street, or over the broccoli in the grocery store, or in a car as it zips by you at 70 mph, and for a brief second you think it’s the face of someone you know. Your heart races with recognition only to be let down that, on second look, it’s not that person after all.
Earlier this Easter season, we heard the story of Philip asking Jesus to show him the Father. Here again, we hear a story of another person, Moses, who asks to see God. How do you recognize the face of someone when you don’t know what they look like in the first place? How many times do we wish we could see God and have some visible, tangible sign of God’s presence? If only we knew what God looks like, then we would know it when we see God.
But that would actually be unfortunate. If we already thought we knew what the face of God looks like, then we would only and forever look for God in that one face. We would cease to search for the image of God in the face of every person we meet, thinking instead that we already know what God looks like and it can’t be like that person.
Instead God lets us see God from behind. And that, of course, is pure genius. Having covered our face with God’s hand as God passes near, we still get to see the backside of God. Even when we don’t see God in the present nearness, we can recognize God in the walking away from that moment. God’s footsteps are still present in the dirt beside us. And the invitation from Jesus continues to echo, “Come, follow me.”
– Rich Nelson
Take a picture of any “backside of God” you see today and post it to social media using the hashtag: #backsideofGod. Tag us at @50Days
Ooh, nice, Laurie, Thanks much….
I do really appreciate the lack of seriousness in @50days. But sometimes there’s a hard and painful and beautiful thing that jars me.
Steven Sutton raised over GBP 3 million for Teenage Cancer before he dies, peacefully last night.
It’s not his retreating back that I can see today but a face turned to making a difference. And while I’d love to, I can’t play #backsideofGod today.
Just an amazing perspective on that reading from Exodus. All my life I’ve seen the backside of God as He’s walked away from the miracles large and small He’s performed, and as He walked away from sitting with me in times of trouble. It is really true, we don’t want or need to see His face. Then we can keep on searching and being blessed in where we find Him.
There is a story of a little girl in Sunday School working furiously on a picture she was drawing. “What are you drawing?” the teacher asked. “I’m drawing a picture of God,”answered the little girl. “Oh, Honey,” said the teacher, “no one knows what God looks like.” “They will in just a minute!” answered the girl.
Maybe it’s my Commonwealth roots showing or that with the fires here in San Diego I’m looking desperately for a laugh, but “backside” is a euphemism for butt. So this is amusing me no end.
*sigh* Sorry. Just had to share.