There is a story in the Bible where Moses asks to see God’s glory. The Lord tells him that nobody can look him in the face “or he will surely die”. So, he puts Moses in the cleft of a rock and passes behind him as Moses stands in the crag like a kid in trouble.
Most of my adult life has been about trying to discover the goodness of the world. Trying to pursue the truth and adopt a perspective that is honest and right and good. I waste a lot of time trying to make sense of fleeting perspectives, worshipping unstable emotions, and floundering in apathy. The true and meaningful quest of each human is to adopt a true perspective. Doing so transforms relationships and circumstances and emotions. It sets me on the right course.
I think this is what Moses is looking for. Something clear to right the ship of his perspective. Something to overpower his will and inspire him so completely he never has to struggle with discernment or decision-making again.
We have been living in New York City for a couple years and I absolutely love it. But this idea of being put in the clefts feels very real to me in the midst of this concrete jungle.
It feels as though the truth is too big for me to fully discover. It seems as soon as I discover one aspect of it, my tendency to obsess and make an idol out of aspects tries to pervert the little bit of truth I have found. And finding pieces of the truth make me understand how much more there is to go.
We are limited creatures. We cannot see beyond the horizon. I’m writing this from a coffee shop in the city, 30 floors up. I can see further and there is a kind of comfort, a kind of hope and inspiration in that, but it is still limited. We are limited in our perspective. I can only see so far and know so much. I can only invest in so many relationships.
I spend my life in the cleft of a rock. Life itself is a cleft for each and every human. A specific place where we have been placed. With limitations. A part of me longs to break through those limitations, to see it all and see it true. But there is another part that longs to be content with the cleft(s) I am allowed into. Maybe the key to perspective is accepting the clefts God places us in.
All The Goodness
One of the phrases I tend to overlook in that story of Moses and God’s glory is in this promise: “I will let all my goodness pass by you”. It is overshadowed by the closely followed statement about not being able to look God in the face.
The breeze of God’s goodness rushes by and around and through Moses. He is not allowed to see all there is. But he is allowed to be full of the goodness he can see.
Perhaps this is the secret to my pursuit of perspective: acceptance and balance. I have a compulsion to understand it all. To be God myself. And it is frustrating that I cannot be. But it doesn’t have to be. My vision is imperfect, but God’s goodness is fully there. Just as it is fully in the clefts I cannot see. The ones in Nebraska and Madagascar and Jupiter. It is all full of all the goodness.
It is a profound mystery. That my heart can be full and long for more at the same time. That I can be content with the goodness in the clefts and aware of their limitations. It makes the journey of humanity difficult. But it is wonderful in its own way. Complicated. And frustrating. But beautiful.
The clefts of my life are an opportunity. The truth is they are what they are. I cannot make God show me his face. I cannot make him send me to other clefts (which have the same limitations but are veiled by the magic of being different). All I can do is take the opportunity to find the goodness of God in this cleft. In this place. At this time. For this life.