“Are you getting ready to leave,” I yell over the bannister from the top floor of our terrace house.
Harrison stops on the middle floor, tilts his head up, and replies, “In a few minutes, yes.”
An hour earlier, creaking floorboards alerted me that my son was awake and out of bed. Water flowing from the shower was a sign that his day held plans. Galloping down steps instead of clunking slowing, one foot at a time, revealed he doesn’t have the luxury of reading the headlines from his phone resting in his palm.
I never made eye contact with my son and yet, the sound of his voice gives me comfort that all is well, he is fine. Life is full and good for him.
A few minutes before he walks out the door, my H raises his voice from the ground floor, “I’m going now. I love you. I’ll see you after work.”
“Okay, I love you too,” I bellow back from my office chair, looking toward the door, out into the empty hallway.
The clank of the lock on the front door alerts me he is now walking in the rain. And I’m alone in a tall house.
Listen to See
Becoming Londoners three years ago, we have learned to live up instead of out into the wide spacious floor plans of the United States. We no longer congregate in a “great room” centered around a flat screen but we are great at listening for clues.
Eye contact is made at the dinner table, when my son asks for money, when Alexa isn’t responding, and when someone declares, “I don’t feel good.”
But when we are crowded in the narrow space between u-shaped countertops in the kitchen, while I’m chopping, and they are nibbling, eye contact isn’t necessary because responsive laughter and voice recognition for silly banter is adequate.
They say when you live with someone long enough, you don’t make eye contact as frequently. Without seeing someone’s facial expressions, a person’s mood can be discerned by listening for intonation and cadence.
For weeks, maybe months, I’ve been sitting with the story in Exodus 33: 17-23 when God tells Moses, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Initially, that seems like an affront. After all, Moses sacrificed a lot to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And God tells Moses that he is pleased with him; God knows him by name.
But Moses wasn’t offended because he knew something that most of us tend to forget.
Serving God isn’t about wracking up brownie points to receive special treatment from the heavenlies. Our obedience glorifies God, not us. That’s why Moses responds with expectancy instead of a rebuttal.
Now show me your glory.
Instead of responding to uncertainty like the Israelites, whining when we don’t get our way – Why aren’t you rescuing me? Why must I endure this unwanted circumstance one more day? – we should be echoing Moses instead.
Now show me your glory.
Because this is how the Lord responded to Moses’ challenge.
“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face.”
Why We Don’t Need to Know Everything
While I am calculating what my life lacks, making idols of longing for that one missing thing, I miss the good right in front of me. Who am I to insist on more, when more might kill me if I were to capture a small glimpse of it.
Mystery protects us from what will destroy us in the knowing.
One thing we can be certain about is God’s specificity when it is applicable for our good: Stand here on this rock next to me. When I pass by I’ll cover you with my hand. When I safely pass, I will remove my hand and you will see my back. But my face must not be seen.
Whatever it is we are searching for will become clear once we get some distance from it. We’ll see how God always has our back even though we can’t see the whites of his eyes in our circumstances.
We don’t have to make eye contact to know that Love is in the house. The doorframes, bannisters, window ledges and countertops reveal his glory.
NEW (and FINAL!) Printable Calendar Page
As I’ve had some distance from a decision I made last December, the monthly calendar pages from Rhythms of Rest will be discontinued this year. April will be our final free printable. Download the April 2018 Calendar here. I hope the monthly calendar pages throughout 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 were helpful in establishing new rhythms of rest for you.