by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
Sometimes I’m hesitant to approach God. I wonder how God will answer my prayer—will I be disappointed with His answer? Am I evaluating the Bible correctly when I study—is He pleased with my conclusions? Am I hearing Him correctly—is He mad at me when I don’t obey completely?
Approaching God can be a mystery, and shall I say it? It can feel scary!
I think that’s why Psalm 103:7 ESV fascinates me. “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” The New Living Translation translates it, “He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.”
Why the different words?
The first is a “who” and the second is a “what.” God revealed to Moses who He is. God only revealed to Israel what He did. But that wasn’t God’s desire. It was what the Israelites wanted. Something prevented the Israelites from approaching God with the motive to know His heart—His character.
I think the biblical story of the Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai is the key to understanding why the Israelites were scared of approaching the mountain of God.
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21 ESV
Moses climbed the mountain with a passion to meet with God and know Him better, regardless of the risk. The Israelites focused on the threat of thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke on Mt. Sinai and resisted going up the mountain to approach God.
Psalm 78:11, 18 ESV describes why we fear climbing the mountain toward God. They [the Israelites] forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. We forget God’s loving works from the past, and we demand that God work the way we think He should.
That’s just like me. I see God working in my life, but it’s not always the “food” I want. He doesn’t fulfill all my plans. He doesn’t heal everything I think He should. He doesn’t work in people’s lives with “deeds” that seem most effective to me. I’m just seeing the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke. I’m not seeing God’s heart which is motivated totally by love, goodness, grace, mercy, kindness, wisdom, and ….oh, the list of who He is goes on and on!
Each day you and I have a choice whether to believe the truths Moses believed about God’s character and climb through the darkness toward the heights of knowing the motives of God. Or we can choose to believe lies based on our incorrect evaluation of what the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke seem to mean.
Truth comes from studying God’s “heart”, which involves His qualities, character, and nature as revealed in Scripture. False interpretations of our trials, afflictions and disappointments make us hesitant to draw closer to God.
Let’s join Moses in risking going through the darkness at the base of the mountain and trust we will know God in truth the higher we climb.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to motivate herself and others to examine both the heart of God and our own motives. Her purpose in her book, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, is to help us examine our hearts and confidently obey God because of His goodness, wisdom, and love. Many of her other 55 books focus on approaching God through knowing His character, including God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, and loves walking before dawn in order to see the stars. She lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, Larry. They married in 1970. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Join the conversation: What is your favorite characteristic of God? How does it encourage you to approach God even when it seems “scary”?