God knows my name

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father refuse thy name… What is in a name?” I must’ve heard that line a hundred times during high school play rehearsal.  It’s a legitimate question.  After all, what is in a name? It doesn’t seem to be all that important. These days you are more likely to be given a name based off of a fad, or trend than anything particularly meaningful.  Sure, we parents like to get all deep and explore the original meaning of the name we pulled out of the 1,001 top baby names book, but in the end all we are looking for is that “cool” factor.  Is the name OG (that means original for those of you without teenagers)?  Check.  Will my child be made fun of on the playground?  Check.  Are there any potentially devastating nicknames to go along with this name?  Check.  Seen in this light, your name doesn’t seem to be all that important.

As I was reading through the book of Exodus, I came across this passage in chapter 33, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”  God is speaking to Moses in response to a request Moses has made of Him.  God had threatened to abandon His people Israel after their continued rebellion and stubbornness.  However, Moses pleaded for mercy and asked Him to stay with them.  Miraculously, God responds favorably to Moses request and promises His presence.  His reasoning?  “I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

There wasn’t anything particularly special about Moses’ name.  In fact, it was an Egyptian name that carried with it the meaning “drawn out of the water.”  His adoptive mother, sister to the Pharaoh of Egypt, gave him the name.  She most likely had no idea what was in store for the baby she pulled out of the stream that day.  But God knew.  His watchful eye was upon Moses.  He shielded him from the decree of the Pharaoh.  He blessed him with a resourceful mother.  He guided him to the porch of the compassionate sister of Pharaoh.  He equipped him with a world class education in Egypt.  He humbled him through 40 years of shepherding in the wilderness.  It’s no wonder upon their first meeting God calls out from the burning bush, “Moses, Moses.”  He knows exactly who He’s talking to.

God was never confused about whom Moses was.  I think it was Moses who had to figure out who God was.  God first introduced Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Sure, Moses had heard a few stories, but he had no personal experience of knowing this God.  In the painstaking process of leading Israel through the Exodus and the subsequent journey through the wilderness, Moses cultivated a friendship with God.  “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  He reached such a depth of knowledge and understanding in God’s ways that God used the prayers of Moses to bring about His will for the people of Israel.

If God is Righteous and Holy, Gracious and Merciful, Powerful and Mighty, Savior and Redeemer, then Moses knew God by name.  He had been exposed to the ways of God time and time again through the course of his journey.  Out of this depth of knowledge Moses developed a boldness and a courage to ask for the desires of his heart and to expect God to answer.  He was no longer a stranger to the God of His forefathers, He counted himself a friend.  So when God says, “I know you by name” perhaps He is implying that now He will be known as, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses!”

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Waiting… the hardest part

Exodus 32:1
“When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses.”

Waiting for something is not my favorite way to pass the time.  I’m sure it’s not yours either.  Our culture has a fast paced, on demand, immediate gratification mindset.  We want what we want and we want it now!  While there may be people, still in existence today, who could be described as patient, like the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse, they are being swallowed up in the hectic chaos of our hyper time conscience world.  This is problematic for people who want to develop a close relationship with God.  It just so happens that God is a God who is constantly calling on us to wait for Him; the very thing we are being conditioned not to do.

The prophet Isaiah tells us, “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”  David encourages us to “wait patiently for the Lord.”  Jesus calls His disciples to wait with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Here in Exodus, once again, God’s people are called to wait on Him while Moses receives the Word, but they are rushed, jumpy and the consequences are terrible.

It’s not so much their impatience which led to God’s wrath, rather it was the idol crafting, the revelry, and the general rejection of everything God had told them 30 days before their drunken, debaucherous idol worshiping party.  However, their haste in wanting to rush the process is where their problems began.  I wonder how many of us could say the same thing?  How many bad relationships, terrible career choices, or disastrous financial decisions have been born out of simply not being willing to wait for God’s timing?

Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part”.  I’m inclined to agree with him.  When someone leaves me waiting, I get this uncomfortable feeling of being overlooked, or worse yet, forgotten.  When that someone is God, the feelings are particularly palpable.  But is that really what’s going on?  When my time horizon doesn’t match God’s is it reasonable to conclude I’ve been forgotten?

I think this is the crux of the waiting battle; to trust; to believe that God is still at work in preparing both me and the environment I’m about to walk into.  When we look back on our lives, so often we see how God’s perfect timing put us where we needed to be in the exact moment we needed to be there.  “God’s timing is perfect” as the popular saying goes.  It’s so true.  The waiting is the hardest part, but it also tends to be the most necessary part.  While we may be tempted to view waiting as wasted time, it’s often a time of preparation.  God shapes us and molds us into who we need to be according to His perfect will.  Waiting is all a part of God’s larger plan and when we see things from this perspective, we can develop the patience we need to hold on a little bit longer.

May you wait on the Lord and increase your strength and soar on wings like eagles and all of that wicked, awesome stuff!