Please…Let Me Know!
Please Let Me Know Your Ways
It was the heart cry of a lonely leader faced with a frustratingly familiar scene, surrounded by the volatile voices of an unbelieving nation. This biblical hero with whom the Lord spoke “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend,” (Ex. 33:11) had one audacious request: “Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight….Please show me Your glory.” (Ex. 33:13, 18)
It seems odd that a man like Moses, who had seen the Lord’s epic works, would feel the need to ask the Lord to reveal His ways. I mean, this man heard God speak through a wasteland bush, saw His miraculous provision at the Red Sea, and followed Him to lead His people out of a tyrant’s grip carrying nothing but a walking stick.
Moses had known the Lord’s works – but he did not yet know the Lord’s ways.
With no tone of reproach, no shaking of His head in disappointment, the Lord answered, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” (Ex 33:17). What the Lord revealed about Himself in response would forever change how Moses understood Him, and has the power to forever change how you and I see Him today:
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6-7)
Please Let Me Know Your Character
The children of Israel would stumble and fall over this very issue. They, too, had seen God’s works, but they would not know His ways. They’d been delivered from insurmountable odds – from captivity to freedom, from Pharaoh’s slaves to Yahweh’s ambassadors – all because the Lord chose to love them. But at the first bump in the road – at the sight of the immediate – they criticized the Lord’s character and questioned His motives.
When they couldn’t find food, they accused Him of bringing them out of slavery just so He could watch them die of hunger. When they couldn’t find water, they grumbled, argued, and “tested the LORD by saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?’” (Ex. 17:7) Their distrusting disposition led to their own demise. God gives us a rear-view window into these stories in Psalm 95 when He warns: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” (vv.7-10).
They saw that His works were mighty, but they did not know His way was merciful. They knew of His greatness, but they did not know He was gracious.
Please Let Me Know Your Presence
We, too, have been delivered from insurmountable odds – from captivity to freedom, from sin’s slaves to the Lord’s children – all because He chose to love us (Rom. 6:17-18, Eph. 1:3-6). But truth be told, it often doesn’t take but a bump in the road before we’ve swerved away from trusting and veered into testing. It might be a difficult relationship, another financial strain, a season of struggling for direction or that moment when all your plans go not at all as planned. But what about when the bumps in the road are more like painful potholes to our soul? Being abandoned by a husband. Grieving an unexpected loss in your family. That moment when you realize that your life looks so different than what you’d hoped it would by now. And at the sight of the immediate, we begin to ask “Did He bring me out here to die? Is the Lord here or not?”
Of course, we don’t usually “sound” like that. Who really dares to say, “I was better off where I was before You delivered me!” No, when we’re met with unexpected difficulty, we’re a little more subtle… “Why is her life so perfect and mine’s such a mess?… I just don’t understand why God won’t bless me this way…Maybe I’m not praying enough/the right way…Perhaps God knows that if I was too happy I wouldn’t be as focused on serving Him…Am I being punished for something?…Is God upset with me? When we only know Him by His works, we’ll always question the motive of His heart, teetering on the see-saw of insecurity, vacillating between a fear and a faith that fluctuates with our circumstances.
But if we know Him by His ways, it changes the lenses through which we see His works.
When we believe that the Lord’s motivating ways are “merciful, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” then we can say with audacious joy: “This I know, that God is for me!” (Psalm 56:9) Behind your most disappointing setback, underneath your deepest pain, and surrounding your greatest spiritual challenge is a working out of His ways in your life, ways that are full of mercy and compassion, faithfulness and love. When you see His works, will you know His ways?
Please Let Me Know Your Heart
So how do we, in the middle of our desert seasons, come to know the ways of the Lord when all we can see are His works? How do we break through those walls of fear that keep us at arms-length from our soul’s true Satisfaction and into the intimacy of the One for whom we were made? Like Moses, we can only come to Him in a trusting vulnerability, and ask: “If I have found favor in your sight, please let me know Your ways.”
In my own journey to know Him by His ways, I’m far from arrived. The invitation to know Him that deeply, that freely, comes with a price that we must all part with if we’re know His ways – to lay down our fears, our distrust, and our insecurities and to surrender the deep places of our souls entirely into His hand. And after we’ve asked, to trust that He will say: “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” He delights in you. (Ps. 149:4, Zeph. 3:17). His favor rests on you through His Son (Luke 4:17-21).
Your Lord wants you to know Him, not just what He does, but who He is – His character, His heart, His ways (Is. 45:19).
Oftentimes I relate to the heroine named “Much-Afraid” from Hannah Hurnard’s classic Hinds’ Feet for High Places. While reaching her destination of the “High Places” was her hope, it was in the long, painful journey that she was transformed. It was only after she confronted her enemies of Resentment, Bitterness, Self-Pity, and Craven Fear that she heard the Shepherd say, “Did you really think that I would let you stray from the right path to the High Places without doing anything to warn you or to prevent it?” Such confidence in His works can only come from knowing His ways.
Will you draw near to Him today? Will you let go of the fear that He is somehow less than all He’s revealed Himself to be in your life? Will you walk away from the distrust that He’s withholding good or not quite in your corner? Will you lay down the insecurities that keep you from hoping for higher joys? You’ve known His works – will you know His ways?
“…If I have found favor in Your sight, please let me know Your ways…”
Katie McCoy is pursuing a Doctorate in Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. When she’s not studying for her classes (a rare occasion!), she loves hanging out with friends, eating sushi, learning new words and is currently a political news junkie. Connect with Katie on Facebook or Follow her Twitter!