You Can Run, But …

Several years ago I ran a half marathon in my community. The community support for this event amazed me and I was delighted by all of the signs people put up along the route to encourage the runners. Many of the businesses along the route had signs, and my favorite was the one in front of the Kitty Hawk Police Department. Theirs read:

You can run, but you can’t hide. Good luck from the Kitty Hawk Police!

It makes me laugh to this day!

Have you ever tried to run away from God’s instruction, correction, or will for your life? Have you ever tried to hide from God? I have. In addition to the many times I tried to hide my sin and shame from him, I also tried to hide from my calling to become an ordained pastor. The idea of three years of seminary and pursuing the arduous process of ordination when I was a young wife and mother of preschoolers was terrifying. I put a veil of non-compliance over my face for two years and tried to pacify God with over-volunteering at the church to see if that would work.

It didn’t.

God sees through our veils.

Moses found himself in a situation where he had to veil the glory of God when God was establishing his Law on Mount Sinai. The importance of this event cannot be overstated. Think for a moment of how much the Law of the Ten Commandments informed the rest of our covenant relationship with God. These important rules are part of secular law even today, regardless of whether or not you can find them in a modern day courthouse. Governments can take them off the lawns or walls, but they are imbedded in how we act as a society.

When Moses encountered God, his face would glow to the point where it brought fear to the people:

Exodus 34 (Common English Bible)

2Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two covenant tablets in his hand, Moses didn’t realize that the skin of his face shone brightly because he had been talking with God.30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw the skin of Moses’ face shining brightly, they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called them closer. So Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 After that, all the Israelites came near as well, and Moses commanded them everything that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 

And so the glory of God reflecting off of Moses’ face had to be tempered by a veil until the people could grow accustomed to it. But in God’s presence, the veil came off:

34 Whenever Moses went into the Lord’s presence to speak with him, Moses would take the veil off until he came out again. When Moses came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was shining brightly. So Moses would put the veil on his face again until the next time he went in to speak with the Lord.

It is fruitless to try to veil yourself in God’s presence. He sees right through it. It is fruitless to try to run from God. He can outrun you by half a marathon.

Are you running from God? Are you trying to hide your sin and shame? It’s time to come clean and come home. When you face your situation openly and honestly, you will find that God is waiting to receive you with open arms of forgiveness and acceptance.

The repentant heart is never rejected.

Glory Bird by Michelle Robertson

Shrouds Enshrouding

Our lectionary today takes us to Isaiah, where we will read some of the most powerful words of hope that have ever been written. It comes at a time when it is easy for us to feel hopeless. We are facing surges in new variants of the coronavirus, devastating storms that have wiped out entire towns, hate crimes filling the news, and unrest that seems to never end.

We need some good news today.

I think that the current state of things is represented in this passage as a veil or shroud over God’s people. We aren’t meant to live this way. We aren’t supposed to feel the crushing weight of fear, anger, disunity, and despair. God created an Eden for us, but in our sinfulness we preferred the temptations of the evil one…and prefer them to this day.

But there will come a time, says Isaiah, when God will swallow up the veil that is veiling all peoples and the shroud that is enshrouding all nations. Our darkness will be lifted and we will be able to see clearly again and experience what God intended all along.

It starts with a rich feast.

Isaiah 25 (Common English Bible)

On this mountain,
    the Lord of heavenly forces will prepare for all peoples
        a rich feast, a feast of choice wines,
        of select foods rich in flavor,
        of choice wines well refined.
He will swallow up on this mountain the veil that is veiling all peoples,
    the shroud enshrouding all nations.

Imagine a heavenly force that will enable us to sit at the table with our enemies and feast on rich foods and choice wines! Then our swords will be turned to plowshares and wars will cease. Harmony will be the rule and sorrowing will end forever.

He will swallow up death forever.
The Lord God will wipe tears from every face;
    he will remove his people’s disgrace from off the whole earth,
        for the Lord has spoken.

God’s word assures us that this day will come. Isaiah foretold it and Jesus unfolded it. God has saved us!

They will say on that day,
“Look! This is our God,
    for whom we have waited—
    and he has saved us!
This is the Lord, for whom we have waited;
    let’s be glad and rejoice in his salvation!”

So no matter what worries you are carrying in your back pocket today, no matter how heavy your sorrow bucket is, or how deep your anxiety runs, remember this: this is the Lord, for whom we have waited. He has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Death is swallowed up forever and God wipes the tears from our eyes.

The veil is lifted.

Sun-fire Window Reflections