You know what I love? I love being a mom of older kids. I mean I loved having babies. I loved snuggles and I loved it when my girls were little and wanted to wrap my hair around their fingers as they fell asleep. But now that they are a bit older, I don't just love them and the things they do - I like them. I really do. I get that the pre-teen, teenage years are hard. We aren't perfect, we definitely have our fair share of run-ins. But there are casual moments throughout our days where I realize, "Ella is talking to me as a mom and a friend," and it blows my mind.
I didn't know you got to be friends with your mom. At least not while you were living in the same house. Friendship during my teenage years was the last thing on my rebellious mind. I was a pain to live with, but that's not what we are here to talk about thank goodness. I point out the contrast only to help you recognize why this is such a new thing for me.
I didn't know it existed. A place where you could be both parent a friend. Where you walk in authority, but activate it from a place of relationship. A place where your child, though they may not agree or want to hear what you are saying, submits because of companionship rather than dictatorship. It's teaching me so much about our relationship with the Father.
Do you know He calls us friend?
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you,"
Jesus came to make known the way to us. Not through force or religion, but through love and relationship. He was fully human but also fully represented the heart of the Father. He came not on His own will, but on the will of the one who sent Him. "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does," (John 5:19.) If we want to know what the Father looks like we simply have to look at the Son. Jesus walked out His Father's heart for the world and those in it and it looked like friendship.
He wasn't looking for slaves and servants as much as He was on the search for friends.
I can relate to this. I have great friends, but I've searched for them and stuck with them and them with me.
What is it like to be a friend of God?
Moses perhaps modeled best what it looks like to move from a place of slave and servant and into a place of freedom and friendship. In fact there is such a stark contrast between the Moses of Exodus 3 and the Moses of Exodus 33, we would be foolish not to stop and take note.
What happened in just thirty chapters to shift the dynamic of this relationship so drastically?
If you don't know the story of Moses, this article should bring you great hope. Moses did a few seemingly simple things in response to his encounter with the Father at the burning bush. What he did built the foundation for a beautiful friendship to be fostered. Friendship with God is not an out of reach invitation. It's not something for someone other than you. The beautiful thing about the stories woven throughout the Bible are their realness. They are us, we are them and because of that we have hope.
Moses, in the middle of the desert (both physically and spiritually) found himself at a crossroads. We can bet he had all but given up on himself and his chances for fulfilling the calling He felt to be a rescuer of his people. His explosion in Egypt lead to murder and then there was the whole coverup that didn't make things better. When he realized he had been found out, he was forced to flee. In Midian he settled down and tried to make the most of what little he had left. There he met Jethro, married his daughter and went to work with the sheep in his fields. It wasn't the life he had imagined, but it was a life none the less.
One day as he walked through his desert fields he saw something naturally supernatural. He noticed a bush on fire. A common thing in the desert. What caused him to take note was this particular bush was on fire, but it wasn't being consumed.
Exodus 3:4-6, "When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!' And Moses said, 'Here I am.''Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.' Then he said, 'I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.' At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."
Moses, shamed, regretful and grieved, hid his face from the Almighty God. He did not feel worthy to come near. My fear is healthy only when it drives me to the Father and not when it keeps me hidden from Him. Fear is not meant to drive us away. It's His kindness that leads to repentance not our repentance that leads to His kindness. He is our Father, our protector and our friend. He is our place of refuge in a time of trouble.
When something is unraveling in my life, often times the first place I go is to the doorsteps of my friends. They are the safe place for me to wrestle with reality and find the truth in the midst of chaos. Friendships fights against the fear that leads to hiding. It beckons us out into the open and tells us we are safe here. And yet, Moses hid. He hid his face when he realized it was the Father calling out to him.
This gives me such hope. This faithless, fallen and forsaken Moses, hiding from God is the same Moses we read about thirty chapters later standing before the Promised Land refusing to enter without the Promise maker Himself. Moses went from fearing the presence of the Almighty to fearing the absence of the Almighty. He went from self- condemned slave to set free friend.
Moses noticed the supernatural in the midst of the natural.
God is always present and always working and His number one objective isn't to accomplish His task independently. He will get the job done - you can bet on that- but He longs to do it together. His heart for relationship means there is always an invitation for you to notice what He's doing and join Him. It was natural for a bush to be on fire in the wilderness. The heat from the sun did this kind of thing often. What was supernatural was the bushes response to the fire burning. The bush wasn't burning up, something must be happening.
God's favorite curriculum is your everyday life. There isn't a box that can contain Him, but He loves moving in ordinary ways. Don't believe me, go outside and listen for Him while you are pulling the weeds in your flower beds or talk to Him while you are wading through traffic on your way home from work. I didn't realize God wanted or even had time to be involved in my everyday life. He's God and there are far more important things going on then my little world. I spent most of my twenty's working really hard to get His attention. I thought, if I could just do enough good, then He would want to work with me and we would get to be together. It's like that small child fighting to get mom and dad's attention and never realizing they had it all along.
Moses noticed the supernatural and then he readjusted his posture to listen to what God had to say. Even though he wasn't confident, he came forward and paid attention. When you notice God at work, come close and pay attention. You're going to want to hear whatever He has to say.
The Lord pulled Moses close and told him He had heard the cries of his people. They were in bondage in Egypt and Moses was God's plan of rescue.
"Moses, I've heard the cries of my people and I'm sending you to Pharaoh to deliver them from their taskmasters," (Ex 3:10 paraphrase.)
Moses struggled with his obvious limitations.
There's going to be a battle. Relational dynamics are sometimes difficult. I see it with my girls. They are limited in their understanding of the world around them. They don't know what I know. Haven't seen what I've seen. Inside their young minds things are linear, they are black and white. The lack of developed prefrontal cortex leaves them lacking an ability to live fully in reality. When they focus only on what they know and forget to trust me with what they don't know, they struggle. Their resistance rises up and together, we struggle. Foundations are poured because of trust. What I do, I do for their good. If they can trust me, and my heart is imperfect, how much more can we trust our Father who is perfect.
"God, why would you chose me. I have such limitations. I am an outcast. I'm not good with words. I'm not impressive with power. What would I even say? When they ask me who sent me, what would I even say to them?" (Exodus 3:11-13 paraphrase.)
In the heat of the moment God's answer might feel a bit harsh. “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you,’" (Ex 13:14, NIV.)
"Simply put Moses, I am enough."
There's security in friendship, when friendship is enough. When it's not about what you bring to the table, what you do or don't do because it's about who you are. Moses was building a foundation of trust with the God who is enough.
"Moses, you don't worry about you because you have me. I'm here and I'm enough. You do you and let me do what you can't."
I feel this on so many levels with my Father. I worked all day yesterday writing. As I wrote it, I felt Holy Spirit leading me. It felt cohesive. It felt like it was working. Then I woke up this morning second guessing it all. What if this isn't it? I don't know if it fits, I might have gotten it wrong.
Thankfully it's not on me. My victory comes in my obedience and not in my delivery. I will work hard unto the Lord, but He will do the impossible. Not me. Seconding guessing will drive you crazy. Thankfully in friendship, I don't walk according to my own name. I walk in step with "I Am." Moses wasn't being graded on how well he did once he walked into Egypt. His invitation came to just start walking.
This is what friends do. They walk confident with one another because of connected hearts. They don't second guess. They don't doubt. They don't fear. There's not striving, no performing, no producing. Just protection. I dare you to try to convince me my best friend talked bad about me. It just wouldn't happen. I wouldn't believe you. Her heart is connected to mine. It's not how we work. There's freedom and confidence to move in a place of trust and unity. Moses was laying a foundation of friendship based upon trust. It wasn't going to be built on anything he would do, but established on who God was.
It shows up later in their conversation but God's invitation really caused Moses to struggle with his identity. I totally get it. It is probably the crux behind almost every doubt I come to the Father with. When I understand who I am and I remember who He is, I walk forward in confidence because I have the keys to the Kingdom. When I forget my feet stumble and I sweat what I shouldn't even be worried about.
Exodus 4:10,"But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
The Lord goes on to remind Moses who created his mouth and his tongue. He is obviously not worried about Moses and his issue with speech. But I wanted to point out how percurliar it is that in Acts 7:22, Moses is described as being eloquent in speech and word. Ha! the very excuse Moses had for the reason he wasn't qualified to do what God asked him to do became the very thing Moses was known for in future stories to come. God will take what you think disqualifies you and actually make it the weapon you overcome the powers of darkness with. That's just what He does. That's why He's the hero of every story! There is nothing He won't partner with to set His people free. There is nothing He can't do.
Moses had a real life conversation
Moses got real with God. "I Am" at the moment wasn't enough for him. He still wasn't feeling it. He might have wanted to feel it, but the confidence to move in obedience wasn't there and instead of pretending it was, Moses laid it out there.
"They won't believe me, then what do I do," (Ex. 4:1, para.)
Real friendships develop over real exchanges. God is real and He wants to meet you in reality. He isn't living in that place you are "supposed" to be. He is living right where you really are. Jesus spent most of His time on earth inviting people into reality. It's like He was saying, "Be here. Be present right here with me. Come into this space. Here's where I want to meet you."
You know why, because even if our minds escape to a false reality, our feet can only be where they really are. God isn't a part of our illusions. He's a part of our realities. And your reality doesn't scare Him. My best friends, they've experienced me in my realness. They know me. On my worst days. When I have little to offer. They've experienced my neediness, my insecurities, my fears. They've suffered because of my selfishness and yet, they show up again and again and again. Because they've also experienced me on my best days. They benefited off my security. Witnessed my courage and been blessed by my gifts. It's the foundation of real relationship. I choose you. Not because of what you have to offer (because sometimes that's a bit shaky) but because of who you are.
God sees the whole thing. All of it. He knows all of you. You don't need to get it together before you come to Him. Coming to Him is what gets it together. He sees you, and He still likes you. He still chooses you. He's like that best friend cutting you slack when your insecurities open an unnecessary door and make their life harder in the moment. He will meet you in your place of insecurity, grab you by the hand and invite you back into His security.
In order to meet Him where we really are, we have to admit where we really are.
I see so many people miss Him simply because they won't step into their reality.
It's the power of authenticity. Learning to be where you really are. You don't have to be okay with being somewhere to really be somewhere, but you have to really be there to move from there. God won't take you away from a place you won't admit you are. He wasn't worried about Moses and his insecurities. His lack of confidence didn't change God, but when spoken out loud God was able to meet him there and invite him into a new understanding.
A few nights ago, my youngest, Addy and I went to say our prayers before she fell asleep. She laid her head back, "Hey God!" Then she stopped, she looked up at me and we both started cracking up. She wasn't sure she could just say, "Hey God!" But, I loved it! I love that she respects Him, but I also love that she befriends Him. And I think He loved it too. In fact, I think He was like, "oh, hey Addy, tell me how it's going with you girl."
When we only ever come to Him with a professional, prescribed presentation we will miss the friendship of a God who wants to interact with us in the rawness and realness of our actual lives. He loves the real you so much better than the you you sometimes pretend to be.
I want my real girls. Not the girls they think I need them to be. The real thing. It's not about them doing what they know they should do and not doing what they know they shouldn't do. It's about the heart behind why they do what they are doing. If they only ever do the right thing because they are afraid to do the wrong thing then fear has driven our relationship, not freedom and friendship. The real them might be harder somedays than the fake them. But hard is the building material for lasting foundations.
Moses acted upon God's invitation
You probably know the rest of the story. Moses goes into Egypt. He goes before Pharaoh and demands he let God's people go. Pharaoh refuses and the plagues come. Over and over again God shows up through Moses in miraculous ways until eventually Pharaoh had enough and sent the people out of His presence.
It's interesting to me that even though God sent Moses into Egypt, He also harden Pharaoh's heart so he wouldn't do what Moses commanded him to do.
Exodus 4:21, “And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”
God is not a waster of your time. He hasn't asked you to do something He doesn't intend to see you through. But He does wait for you to do what He's invited you to do. He doesn't move on to the next thing just because the present thing is hard. It's like weight lifting. Resistance builds muscle. Maybe the friction you're feeling is for the formation of your future. Maybe your future faith is dependent upon this not being easy. If I always avoid running hills in my training then when a hill shows up in a race, I'm going to struggle.
God hardened Pharaoh's heart and Moses experienced resistance. Harder and harder Pharaoh's heart grew until he had more than he could take. With the death of his first born son, Pharaoh surrendered and sent the Israelites off with everything. They took all of their belongings and they set out for their freedom.
Moses led the Israelites to their freedom. They got as far as the Red Sea before Pharaoh changed his mind. What was he thinking. Who would give up the slaves who worked endlessly to build his entire empire. He set out on pursuit of Moses and God's people. At the Red Sea, Moses was out of options. This is my favorite interaction. The people are freaking out. Did Moses bring them out just to die. This was supposed to be about their freedom and now they are stuck. They turned against Moses and Moses turns to God, "Okay God, I brought them this far. What are you going to do now?"
To which God says, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground," (Exodus 14:15-16, NIV.)
Moses, what's in your hand. You've seen what I can do. You've followed me and trusted me and now it's time to see what you can do. I trust you. Now you have to step out and trust yourself. Eventually in our friendship with God we have to step out and see what we can do.
There's a season where you learn to drive the car, there's a season where you take the keys and drive the car and then there's a season where you strap your children in and you drive them to their destination. It's called growth and leadership and it enhances friendship.
Trust goes both ways. When God knows you will respond, He will invite. And a foundation will be poured. Then you will find yourself with a friendship and an invitation to foster this friendship as you move forward in faith together.
Here's the thing; you can't foster a friendship without a foundation. Anything built upon nothing isn't really anything at all. Don't skip the foundation building because the future won't work without it.
Notice the naturally supernatural movements of God in your every day life. Really notice them. Enough to stop and come closer. If He's moving, you're invited. Come close enough to hear the invitation. It's okay to be limited. It's okay to feel inadequate. He is adequate enough to cover you. He hasn't asked you to do anything, He's not ready to see you through. Have real conversation with Him. Wrestle with reality. Stop pretending it's okay when it's not. Just be authentic and then do something. Take a step toward what He's invited you into. This will build the foundation necessary for real friendship.
We will keep going - next time I have the chance to keep writing. Because Moses took his foundation and he fostered a beautiful friendship on tope of it. A friendship that changed everything. One so dear, he refused to go forward without - even into the Promised Land. The one thing he had been traveling and working towards for forty years suddenly paled in comparison to the one whom He'd been traveling with.