Seeing the Backside of God
[God said to Moses,] “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by;then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” – Exodus 33:21-23 (NRSV)
Sometimes, like Moses, I have longed to encounter God face-to-face. Moses caught not the whites of the Divine Eyes, but instead a short glimpse of God’s backside. I know the feeling.
In young adulthood, for instance, I pled for God to pop out from behind the cash register of the grocery store where I worked and announce that it was time to move on. Instead, I received a conversation with a co-worker who asked, “Why not?”
As a first-time mother, pacing the hospital hallways while my tiny infant healed in a NICU incubator, I asked God to show up around every corridor’s corner. Instead, I received an acquaintance who dropped off a restaurant meal in a fancy to-go container.
When I was walking a close family member through his last days, I wondered if God might show Their face in a miraculous reversal. Instead, I received regular encouraging texts from a friend who herself battles chronic illness.
It is not always granted us to see God face-to-face. But, like Moses, I have learned that brief and humble though our God sightings might be, they can be more than enough to nudge us onto the next thing, and then sustain us on the journey.
Divine One, let us see you, even in ways we don’t ask for. Amen.
Rev. Jennifer Garrison (formerly Brownell) is a writer, spiritual director and pastor living in the Pacific Northwest. Her published work most recently appeared in the book The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.