The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
It’s a wonderful thing to have a good friend; to have someone in your life that Anne of Green Gables would refer to as a “bosom friend.” For the past 23 years, I have had one such a friend. She is like a blood sister to me. We share a similar sense of humor, and everything is funnier when she is around. Our telephone conversations are peppered with fits of uncontrollable giggles over jokes that only we understand. If either one of us is in trouble, the rest of the world may move on, but we support each other with prayer and phone calls, until the season has passed. We hold different opinions on some issues, but even those differences of opinion are laced with respect and acceptance for one another’s right to have that opinion. I would dare say, that what is so special about our friendship is that, beyond our human flaws we see the image of God in each other, but, we’ve never spoken “face to face,” not like God and Moses.
Exodus 33:11 gives us an intimate look at the relationship between God and Moses. It’s a friendship so deep, no human words can define it. God had put some distance between himself and the rest of the people in the camp, “because they were a stiff-necked people,” but there is no such distance when it comes to Moses. God sets Moses apart for special favor. There is an intimacy between God and Moses that is so deep that whenever Moses went into the “tent of meeting” the pillar of cloud would come down and cover the entrance, and the LORD would speak to Moses “face to face,” as one speaks to a friend. That’s a “just the two of us” kind of intimacy!
We all need this kind of rich and satisfying friendship. As humans, God has created us in such a way that we hunger for close connections with one another. We long to savor the image of God in each other. Our current generation spends exorbitant amounts of time on social media. Common Sense Media reports that the tweens and teens spend six to nine hours each day on social media. In 2016 the New York Times reported that adults spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook (that’s 1.65 billion users x 50mins). All this activity reflects our deep hunger for connection. And yet, no matter how much we read and post, no matter how many followers we pick up along the way, no matter how many people we friend or unfriend on Facebook, a gaping hole remains in our hearts, and our search continues; we feel cut off from the “tent of meeting” by a cloud. We fail to achieve that “face to face” quality of intimacy despite our best efforts to connect to others.” Bishop Augustine (354-430) captured our hunger thus, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Are you lonely? Do you feel isolated despite your seeming popularity on social media? Do the connections in your life feel superficial? If so, there’s good news for you. Your search is over because only God will do. This deeply intimate connection, such as that which God had with Moses is possible for you too. God wants to commune with you “face to face.” He has already given his Son as a ransom for you to make such intimacy possible. Therefore, draw near to him; free yourself from all the distractions that keep you outside the “tent of meeting.” Form a habit of “friending” him instead, because he has already proven that he is your one true, and steadfast friend. As he said to Moses he now says to you, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14).” Will you consider, a closer walk with him?
Dear Father, thank you for your steadfast love for me. Free me from the chains that bind me to this never-ending search for connection and meaning. Draw me to yourself, that I might find peace and rest. Remind me always, that as long as I have you, I have everything I need. Amen.