Have you ever known you were in the presence of Almighty God? It is truly awesome. I’m not talking about the everyday God-is-with-me sort of presence of God. Whilst that is absolutely true, and totally essential, there come moments when you KNOW you are in the presence of God, when you almost have to remind yourself to keep breathing; ‘Lost in wonder, love and praise’ as Charles Wesley put it. But how do you describe those occasions to someone else? The English language fails to provide adequate vocabulary, but more than that, many folk just don’t have the concepts; they just wouldn’t understand or believe you.
I wonder if Moses had that problem. He had had an amazing encounter with God in the wilderness (the burning bush experience). God had made very clear the work Moses was to do, and it required a big move away from his father-in-law’s homestead. How could he describe to Jethro all that had taken place, all that he had experienced, all that God had talked with him about? How could Jethro possibly grasp it? So Moses went the route most of us would opt for – explain it in non-spiritual terms, water it down, make it look like a sensible idea (Exodus 4:18).
The other day I was talking to an atheist friend about a Christian we both knew well, who has been very ill, but has seen amazing recovery. “God is good!” I finished, after describing some of the improvements. “Yes, God is good!” I heard him repeat, in spite of himself. I left it at that, and chuckled to myself.
So I wonder if sometimes when we find it too hard to describe a spiritual experience, we shouldn’t just try to do it anyway. Otherwise we are denying the other person the opportunity to respond. It may be difficult, it may be embarrassing, we may be thought of as crazy or OTT, but who knows what stirrings of the heart that conversation may elicit. God wants to spend time with all people, not just a chosen few, what right have I to deny someone the chance of an encounter they would never otherwise have dreamed possible? Jethro met up with Moses later in Exodus 18, and that time around, Moses filled him in on the details of all God had done for them. “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods,” was Jethro’s response, followed by worship and sacrifice.
That’s the sort of reaction that makes any amount of embarrassment worthwhile!