I am not wise enough to brag about wisdom or knowledge, nor am I especially strong enough to brag about my great might in any way. I certainly have no riches to flaunt before anyone.
We do not give things up for the sake of giving things up. We give things up for the sake of being closer to God and obeying Him more fully. The things we give up are of no value to God. What is of value to God is my very life.
We do not give things up because doing so brings us closer to God. We give things up because we finally recognize nothing else is more important than being closer to God. We give them up "for the sake of the only thing worth having". Getting rid of things does not, themselves, bring us closer to God. Getting rid of things loosens our grip on the things which keep us from grasping a stronger relationship with God.
Over and over, God reveals to people how they are to come to him. WHen they worship Him and bring their sacrifices, it is to be done with intensive preparation and intentionality. They were not to come to God's presence without the right preparations. In Exodus 34.20 God says "Don't show up empty-handed." Again and again there is a reminder we would not, should not, and better not come to God empty-handed. But we are often so lazy about our worship. We drag ourselves into worship on Sundays. We are empty handed and empty hearted. We have done nothing to prepare ourselves. We have not prepared our worship to be a pleasing aroma to God. Many or most Sundays we are lucky if we prepared anything at all.
Most Sundays we dray our apathetic hearts to worship and expect God to be overwhelmed by our valiant efforts put forth. "At least I showed up!"
My empty hearted worship is a joke and I am lucky I do not have to suffer the consequences the Israelites would have suffered for bringing such half-assed and empty-hearted sacrifice.
Later in Exodus 34, Moses is so close to God he gleams bright in the face. He has to wear a vail when he leaves God's presence, but every time he comes into God's presence he removes it.
When I come to God's presence, I want to be sure I admit and remove any blockages or hindrances my heart and mind have between me and God.
I have to remove my vail every time I come to worship him. I have to grow sick and tired with half-assed, empty-handed, and empty-hearted worship.
"The hand of God does not hold the man nearer, clasped in its grip, but sets him free, and its creative power becomes the longing love of the Creator for the creature." - Bonhoeffer This Bonhoeffer quote is a great image for my heart to see today. I am reminded that God is not a vindictive dictator manipulating my every move so that I remain near to him and his model for my life. That would not be love! If, in his phenomenal power, God manipulated my every move that I had no option but to love him back, I would not have loved him anyway. But as a phenomenal Creator, he has given me life and asked that I be close to him and yet allowing me to live that life as I choose.
I am reminded of one of many fears I had of becoming a father. If I raise a child with great love, I cannot imagine the pain of a time when my own daughter lives her own life without a desire to be near me and the love I have given her. I imagine I would stay back, wanting her to go and become a woman; for her to grow into a strong woman; all along waiting back for her to desire time, connection, and nearness to me, her father.
This image has served me well today in my connection with the heart of God.
My Father has given me life to live, but how close have I desired to be? He waits for me to be near while he also enjoys seeing me go and grow and mature. I long to be near my Abba who has given me life and brought me this far into the person I am.