Scripture Reading: Exodus 34:8-10
I’ve had moments in my life where something will happen and I’ll think, “Wow, that was the presence of God passing right in front of me.”
I don’t always sense His presence like this, but when I do, I’m usually taken aback by it, and I’m not quite sure how to react. It’s overwhelming, on one hand, to realize that God has just passed by. But it’s often such a small thing, on the other hand, that alerts me to His presence, that it makes me stop and think, “Was that really God?”
I love how Moses responds when the presence of God passed by Him in Exodus chapter 34:
“Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,’ he said, ‘then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.’ Then the LORD said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you’ ” (Exodus 34:8-10).
Moses’ response was immediate: he bowed down and worshiped, “at once.”
The night before I wrote this lesson, I had one of those moments where I felt God’s presence passing by.
All week I had been thinking about an illustration of what grace looks like that I had read twenty years ago in Victor Hugo’s book, Les Miserables. In the book, a thief takes refuge in the home of a bishop, who was the first person who offered the thief a meal and lodging since his escape from prison. As they prepared for bed that night, the bishop handed the thief a silver candlestick to light his way to his bedroom for the night.
In the middle of the night, the thief’s heart became hard again and he took the opportunity to escape while he still could, stealing the silver utensils that they had used for dinner as he left the house. But early the next morning, the police caught the thief and brought him back to the bishop’s house. The bishop exclaimed, “Oh, you are back again! I am glad to see you. I gave you the candlesticks, too, which are silver also, and will bring forty francs. Why did you not take them?”
The thief was stunned, as were the police. The bishop added solemnly, “Never forget you have promised me you would use the money to become an honest man,” which is exactly what happened.
I remembered that picture of grace from Hugo’s book and wanted to share it with others, but didn’t know where in my house to find the book I had once read. The night before I was to write this lesson, my 8 year-old son and I were reading from another book, a large collection of short stories, when my son said, “I’d like to just flip through the pages and pick a story with my fingers.” He ran his fingers through the 832 page book and opened it. I stared in disbelief at the title of the story in front of my eyes. It was called, The Good Bishop, and it gave a short, 3-page summary of this very incident with the candlesticks from Victor Hugo’s book, Les Miserables.
I felt as if the presence of God had just passed by.
I wanted to bow down and worship. Not just because God had found the story for me that I had been looking for, in a place where I never would have looked for it, but because earlier in the day I was wondering why some of the “big” things I’ve been praying about have not yet been answered.
I was reminded that God is not just in the big things―and He’s not just in the little things. God is in every thing.
The next time God passes by, what will your response be? I’m praying that more and more, my response will be like that of Moses, to bow down at once, and worship.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.