Lord, Show Me Your Ways
If you've ever had to dial 911 before, you know what an emergency feels like. You need help and you need it fast! One day Moses found himself in the middle of a huge emergency. He had been up on Mt. Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments from God. But the people of Israel had grown impatient waiting on Moses and God, so they decided to worship another god—the infamous golden calf. Calf worship in that day basically amounted to little more than sexual immorality. When Moses discovers what’s going on, he is crushed, and God is steamed. He tells Moses that he’s going to destroy the people of Israel and raise up a great nation through him in their place.
This was a true emergency. The whole nation was about to taste the wrath of God. But Moses doesn’t pray an emergency prayer, as you might expect. He doesn’t pray, “God, I have an emergency. I need you to intervene and deal with this situation.” Instead, he prays something that should raise your eyebrows: “God, I want to know your ways. I want to know you. Teach me your ways so that I may know you.” That’s his prayer. Psalm 103 encapsulates this briefly in verse 7. It says God made his ways known to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.
When we pray, it’s generally because we want to see God’s deeds. “Lord, heal my mother. Dear God provide the funds I need. Father in heaven, please intervene in this critical situation”. What’s wrong with wanting to see God’s deeds? Nothing! It’s good to be delivered from an emergency. But there’s another dimension to prayer that involves more than the deeds of God in an emergency situation. This other dimension of prayer is the desire to know God’s ways.
The Psalmist recorded Moses’ request to know God’s ways on purpose for a reason. All the people of Israel got to see was their prayers in an occasional emergency answered. But as a result of his prayers, Moses learned the ways of God. The people got something from God. But Moses got God. Moses found God’s ways. Do you just want an occasional emergency handled? Or do you actually want God? What if you actually prayed, “God, I want to know you. Show me your ways.”
About eight years ago, there was a missionary named Karen Watson who went to Iraq to offer humanitarian aid in the name of Jesus Christ. When she left, she wrote a letter. She gave it to her pastor and said, “You only get to open this if I die.” Two years later she was killed by the very people she went to serve. When her pastor opened the letter, the opening line was “I know you’re only reading this if I have died.” There were some tender comments to her family and to her church. And then she closed with this line: “To obey was my objective. Suffering was expected, and his glory is my reward.”
Karen Watson was someone who came to God, not with a plea to survive an emergency, but with a desire to see His glory. So she walked into a danger zone, fully aware of the risks, with no promise of insulation against the danger. God did not intervene through a display of his mighty deeds. But does this mean God did not respond to the prayers of this young woman? No. Karen Watson may not have seen the deeds of God on display in an emergency situation. But she saw something better—her reward for faithful obedience—the glory of God.