The Back Side of God

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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


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