Chapter 33 in the book of Exodus describes a Tent of Meeting that Moses would set up outside the Israelites’ encampment during their years in the wilderness. This is the place Moses would go to hear the people’s requests, grievances, and concerns. This is also the place Moses would hang out with God. Exodus 33:11 says God would speak directly to Moses, “as one speaks to a friend.” Moses spent so much time with God that his face started to take on a shine or a glow, and this glow was so unnatural that it scared the Israelites. Moses started wearing a veil to avoid making his friends uncomfortable.
Author and Pastor Pete Scazzero preached at our church three weekends ago, and discussed how silence and solitude are critical elements in our relationship with God. Scazzero has a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office. I bought a copy for Dan’s birthday, then bought one for my Kindle so I could practice what Scazzero calls the “Daily Office” with Dan.
Each day’s Office begins with two minutes of “silence, stillness and centering before God” then moves into a scripture reading, devotional, and prayer. The Office ends with two more minutes of silence. In his sermon, Scazzero explained he learned about the Daily Office by studying and living with monks for a short time. Monks practice their Office anywhere from six to eight times a day. Scazzero’s book provides only two per day, knowing our society has enough struggle with even that small amount.
The past two weeks, I start my mornings by lighting a candle, setting a timer for two minutes, then reading the morning Daily Office. I set the timer again for two minutes at the end, to finish with silence. I repeat this process in the afternoon before the kids get home from school. On one of these past days, I realized I have my own version of the Tent of Meeting already set up in my living room because I made a reading nook beside the couch for the kids this summer. I decided to start having my Daily Office in the nook, and it has become my own Tent of Meeting.
Yes, I know the mosquito net in my living room is a far cry from the tabernacle of the desert wilderness, because I don’t have the Ark of the Covenant or the fixings of the tabernacle to furnish my tent.
But I do have one thing Moses had: God. The Almighty. The I Am. And even though I am physically alone during my Daily Offices, I am not spiritually alone. My Father is with me, and we are spending quality time delighting in each other. I thought I’d share a photo of what time in my Tent of Meeting looks like.
During this morning’s Daily Office, the idea of Moses’ Tent of Meeting floated into my mind during the first two minutes of silence. I said to God, “Wouldn’t it be marvelous if I spent so much time with You that my face glowed?” And then God allowed me to glimpse a general overview of the times in my life when I have been most present with Him: Times of grief. Fear. Pain. Tears. Anguish and despair.
Times of such devastating loss, like when my brother died and my heart went cold before I slowly started visiting God and trusting Him again.
Times of depression and anxiety, like when my first child was born and I came unglued from Postpartum Depression.
Times of bittersweet letting go, like when I carried my fading and dying parents back to their Father.
Times of stubbornness and defiance, like when I laid on the couch – right beside the spot where my Tent of Meeting is now located – and had a tantrum with God about my marriage (and how it didn’t revolve around me – really?).
Times of ache and confusion, like when the job I dreamed of didn’t quite make sense for me anymore.
God granted me these glimpses as a reminder of this truth: the more heartache I have in my life, the more time I spend with God.
Here I am, in my Tent of Meeting, telling God how I’d love to glow for Him. Yet I know that spending time with Him hasn’t always been a natural response for me when things are going peachy in my life. I’ve gotten to know God best through anguish and raw vulnerability. Approaching Him again and wanting to glow from my time with Him means there may be pain involved, too.
Am I okay with this?
My human response shouts to get off my fanny and run screaming from this insane idea of Meeting in Tents and, instead, get myself buried in a safe cave where Nobody. Can. Hurt. Me. But my spiritual self, the one that trusts in my Daddy’s love, says that nothing can harm me when He stands beside me. He wins, period. And because I’m His, I win, too.
Maybe the shine on Moses’ face was there because his face was wet with tears. Maybe the tears were from pain, but what if they were the tears that escaped his eyes when he sat with his Best Friend in the holiness?
Yeah, me too.