with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands,
he was not aware that his face was radiant
because he had spoken with the LORD.
– Exodus 34:29
Each time upon Moses’ return from being in the presence of the Lord in Exodus 34, his face was radiant. The Israelites could barely stand to look upon him because he was all aglow!
Have you ever known someone like that? Someone who seemed like they had been with God and reflected that outwardly? They might not have been beautiful by human standards, but something emanated from them –causing them to glow…and it spoke of intimacy with God.
The photo to the left is of my mother-in-law who is now with the Lord. Oh! How I love her! In this photo, Phyllis is eagerly opening a Christmas present. To make use of both hands–one of which had been occupied by holding a cookie she was enjoying–she held on to the cookie with her mouth instead. What a character!
I wish I had a picture that shows just how much she glowed with the radiance that only the Lord can do in a life. No matter what came her way, she had an outward gleam…and you could tell that while her feet may have been touching the pavement of this earth, her heart was in the presence of the Lord. It was obvious outwardly!
Likewise, God is after our personal spiritual formation and transformation! Often, this transformation results in outward physical changes. Definitely, when we allow him to have a hold of our hearts, it happens from within…and radiates outwardly. Sometimes it will affect our countenance. Sometimes, it may even affect our physical shape. But being with HIM is what makes the difference.
Try as we might to look a certain way–to look like Moses did after coming down from the Mountain–we can’t generate that on our own by outward constraints. The only way lasting transformation occurs is by walking/being with the Lord.
Likewise, the kind of physical changes that most of us want in our bodies…
So I guess this is the bad news. I may as well lay it out there right now! This is hard. In fact, it is likely harder than making changes to our bodies alone! For instance, how many of us know how to lose weight? If you are like me, you know how to do that really well. But what we haven’t quite gotten down is how to do this genuinely, authentically–without resentment or “feeling ripped off”…and in a way that lasts without obsession seeming to be necessary to keep it up.
This is what we are after. Or what I hope you are after with me.
God wants our hearts to belong to him (not to some “skinny” ideal or even to some vision of “health and wholeness!”). As we relinquish our hearts to him, we WILL change from the inside out.
Thoughts for you to ponder:
1.) What is really your priority right now? Is it:
a.) “To get this weight off!”
b.) “To do and be what I want.”
c.) “To depend on the Lord and to grow in my dependence on Him”
Obviously, most of us want to answer “c.)” but what is our honest answer? What does our behavior say? Or put another way and perhaps something that will tell us the truth about what our priority really is…What do you think about the most? That is usually a clue as to what you really want the most…as to what your priority is. Am I thinking about food all the time? Am I focused on the body that I don’t have but want? Or do I long to be more like Jesus? Ouch! That is convicting. At least to me!
Don’t allow the Enemy to use this to beat you up and please don’t beat yourself up! On page xv of the introduction we are told we will put away our “club of condemnation.” So let’s not get it out now. We will learn instead “to walk in newness of a grace-filled life in the present moment.”
If you find yourself honestly answering a.) or b.), never fear. God can work wonders when we are honest with him. Read Psalm 51–especially verse 12 and make it your prayer to God, “Lord please grant me a willing spirit…”
2.) Are you willing to foster an awareness of Jesus’ presence in every moment of your life? You can do this in your heart even in the midst of a hustle bustle work schedule or being with your kids or running errands or whatever you do. Truthfully, there is no way to experience the kind of lasting, deep, penetrating transformation that we really need apart from developing an awareness of his constant care and presence with you. Truly, this can be quite simple, but it is NOT easy!
What is your plan for being sure you depend on the Lord through this journey? How can you set yourself up for “success?” What I mean by “success” is not about eating or food, but about the heart change we need in order for the outward changes to “take” and “stick.” Right now, we may care most about physical changes…we want to lose weight! We *have* to lose weight! Truthfully, that is not God’s priority. Heart change is. I can’t say this enough!
In the introduction, we are reminded that we may have to “unlearn many things we have come to depend on over the years…” As we launch our study, many of us might slip into a “diet” mentality… You may not even realize it! These are things we will have to unlearn.
As we are reminded on page xv, “…our focus won’t be only on externals or appearances.”
I hope that message has come across loud and clear this morning as you have read through this entry. I know this is something I struggle with and that God yet is working with me on.
The prayer on page xv says it so well…and some of my prayer today for each of us is borrowed from there:
Lord, please open our eyes and release us from the chains that bind us. Help us to focus not on outward appearance or the changes that we want in our size or physical condition. Help us, instead, to focus on being willing to depend on you, lean on you, to need you…when something inside us lures us to food or drink or anything apart from you, cause us to wait on you instead…may we develop such a dependence on you that we stay in your presence throughout the day and our countenances reflect the radiance of those who are in the presence of the Lord. Remake and change us from the inside out. In the name of Jesus, Amen.