By Robert Halsey Pine
“And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, The LORD…But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ And the LORD continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’” (Exodus 33:18-23 NRSV).
My brother does a lot of vertical climbing in the mountains. He was with a team of four a few years ago, just 400 feet from a 14,000-foot summit. The lead climber knocked loose a boulder that was three to four feet in diameter. My brother heard it coming and quickly found a cleft in the rocky vertical face of the mountain. He pulled in all of his body except the knee of one leg. The boulder hit his knee gashing it open. The incident could have knocked all four climbers off of the mountain (all were connected by rope) had my brother not gotten far enough into a cleft.
Badly injured, the only way for my brother to go was up to the top. Climbing down this vertical side of the mountain was not an option. His team came to him in the cleft and nurtured him. When he had become stable enough, the others literally pulled him to the top of the mountain with them. Once at the summit he had to be taken 4,000 feet down a more gentle slope from the summit to a base camp, where he would be protected from the life threatening exposure that he would have experienced at the summit.
The next morning as my brother sat at base camp treating his wound, a lady hiker came briskly trotting by and stopped to see what was wrong. She was a long distance runner and her husband was head of the rescue unit in the village at the foot of the mountain. She quickly jogged down the mountain to get help. Twenty-three hours after the accident, a rescue helicopter arrived at the base camp to fly my brother to a hospital.
We cannot see God face to face, but be assured that He will make all goodness pass before us. His goodness is His glory. He has given us a rock to stand on that is Christ Jesus and a cleft where we may find protection. He has shown himself to us through others. Through our life teams and others who find us in trouble. We will be able to see Him one day in His kingdom, but until then let us rejoice in the goodness that He brings to us through Jesus and one another. Let us share the good news of goodness!
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.