Have You Ever Been Mooned by God?

By Eugene C. Scott

When Moses demanded to see God’s glory, God mooned him. This was not an insult. Nor an accident.

It’s an unusual–irreverent–but accurate translation of Exodus 33:23 where God answers Moses’ request with, “I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back.” Literally the text reads, “you’ll see my hinder part” or “backside.”

And some say God has no sense of humor.

Obviously all biblical references to God’s body parts are anthropomorphisms, God using human characteristics to communicate to us something about himself. God–as Spirit–has no hands much less a backside he could moon us with.

So, what’s God’s point in showing Moses his backside?

Like Moses, I too have yearned to see God. Those nights, days, hours, months where the cold, wet drizzle of doubt chills me to the soul, I get lonely–for God. Just a touch, just a glimpse even of his backside would make all the difference in the world.

During Lent our faith community is exploring ways to see God–or at least draw closer to him. We have discussed and practiced confession, making room for God, listening to God, silence and becoming servants. It’s been thrilling and challenging. God may have even mooned us a couple of times.

Today for example. A group of us partnered with a few students and teachers from Dakota Ridge High School (the school The Neighborhood Church meets in for worship) in a service project. Sixteen of us traipsed over to a senior living center and spent some time with several Alzheimer’s patients. All in different stages.

We each paired off with a woman patient in the room. We were to greet them with a smile, clasp their hands, look them in the eye, introduce ourselves, and eventually compliment them. We were to be present to them no matter how present they could be to us. I found myself talking with a woman laying back in a recliner, holding a pink piglet stuffed animal. She was deep in the disease, unable to respond at all. My heart sank.

Still I took her hand, I smiled, I introduced myself, I complimented her on her piglet doll. In return she drooled. Touching her shoulder, I prayed God would fill her and–though she could not hear me–speak to her between her damaged brain cells. That she would see God with the eyes of her soul.

Beyond our awkward silence, the room grew noisy as the students interacted with the other residents. I stroked her hand. Her skin moved under my hand but that was all. I fell silent.

I wonder what her name is, I thought. I turned and asked the woman in a rocking chair behind me. She thought for a moment, looked around and then shrugged. An aide walked by and I asked her.

“Crystal,” the aid answered hurrying by.

I turned back and again took Crystal’s hand. “Crystal,” I called out to her loud and sure.

At that she jolted, opened her eyes and in jerky movements squeezed my hand.

“Crystal, I love your piglet doll. I bet one of your grandchildren gave it to you.”

She jolted again and began chattering, if mumbling can be chatter. Now my smile was real. I understood not a word. But I didn’t need to. Later she held her milky eyes wide, tears filling the wrinkles on her gray face as the kids came by and hugged her saying, “It was good to meet you, Crystal.”

Unexpectedly, I saw God’s shadow there in Crystal’s fading face.

Like Moses–like Crystal–I ache to see God, his glory, his power, his healing: to hear his deep booming voice say, “Peace. All is well.”

If I could see God–I tell myself–then I could believe, live right then I could step out into some crazy God-idea like not worrying, or starting a church from scratch, or loving my enemy, or living by faith not fear, or–some days–getting out of bed.

Instead God moons me, shows me his hinder parts. Funny thing is that God’s hinder part may be all we can handle seeing this side of eternity. Moses didn’t seem to mind. And rather than an insulting high school prank, being mooned by God may be a fantastic privilege. Today he showed up in an Alzheimer’s patient.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church.  During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus.  These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives.  Join us.  See tnc3.org for worship times.

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4 responses to “Have You Ever Been Mooned by God?

  1. Georgie-ann

    Many years ago, during a bout with a very severe flu, — (I had fever for a full month, diminishing gradually from 105F to 99F during that time) — I was as close to “seeing God” as I ever have been. Previously, I had “felt God” powerfully several times, but this was a different type of thing.

    For days on end, I was floating in a realm that, even to this day, retains a sense of definiteness and permanence, that never “evaporates” or changes in my memory. True to Scripture, there was no sun, but it was a realm filled with golden light! It was truly peaceful, but very “alive” with a vibrant penetrating energy nonetheless. I think I was more “there” than “here” for a good many days, and passed by and through various scenarios, in which there was no fear, no worry, no impatience — rest and contentment were the hallmarks. I was addressed by name, (“Hi, Georgie!”), received smiles, even treated to some funny “in-jokes!” I laughed. But mostly I floated.

    Oo-gene, I have to say that, experienced as a God-given “rest cure” in Heaven, it really did make a lasting difference for me in living this life. Not that I’m always thinking about it, but I can go back and touch it as a memory, and it never fades. It is always there, the same, revealing a trusted calm and firm foundation, that reminds me that “God was there” with me, in a very permanent and sublime sort of way during one of my physically weakest moments. It was very affirming.

    Our life in the flesh is so subject to variables. Everything changes, and not just the weather! Small wonder that we look for the anchor! We are challenged to find it by Faith, an adventure in itself, but I believe we are also given many clues AND rewards all along the way.

    This special time did occur during the time frame of my mother’s siege with Alzheimer’s, and your story brings back memories of the simple times spent with her. We fed the hungry little appreciative sparrows. My mother was pretty good with enjoying “the present” in our repeated familiar “rituals.” I would fill in the blanks and recall the memories for her, no need for tests. This was a time of fellowship for us, and my time to “give back.” We experienced Simple Blessings together. And our hearts were warmed.

    Some scriptures on seeing God:

    OLD TESTAMENT: Deuteronomy 5: (Moses addresses the people, about the Ten Commandments)

    23 “And when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you …

    24 “… said, ‘Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire; we have this day seen that God speaks with man and man still lives. …

    26 ” ‘… who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire, as we have, and lived?

    27 ” ‘… speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you; and we will hear and do it.’

    28 “And the Lord … said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have said well all that they have spoken. …

    29 ” ‘Oh, that they had such a [mind and] heart in them always [reverently] to fear Me and keep all My commandments, that it might go well with them and with their children forever!’ ”

    NEW TESTAMENT: John 1:17-18

    17 “For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    18 “No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].”

    1 John 4:11-13

    11 “Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.

    12 “No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us!

    13 “By this we come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we abide (live and remain) in Him and He in us: because He has given (imparted) to us of His [Holy] Spirit.”

    1 John 5:19-21

    19 “We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one.

    20 “And we [have seen and] know [positively] that the Son of God has [actually] come to this world and has given us understanding and insight [progressively] to perceive (recognize) and come to know better and more clearly Him Who is true; and we are in Him Who is true–in His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah). This [Man] is the true God and Life eternal.

    21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)–[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).”

    • Georgie-ann

      BTW,…Here’s the story on Oo-gene from Wikipedia (googled):

      “The Gospel Bill Show is a Christian-values based television show that was produced by Willie George Ministries from 1981 to 1993. It was broadcasted on the CBN and TBN, and is currently seen on Daystar, Smile of a Child, and in syndication on other small Christian television stations. …

      Format:

      The show would center around a topic, where Gospel Bill would be heavily involved in providing moral guidance to one of the citizens (usually Nicodemus or Elmer Barnes) and/or preventing catastrophe (mainly stopping Luther Bedlow’s criminal activities).

      Oogene and Jeannie Mae segments:

      A typical episode would be interrupted several times by puppet segments depicting Biblical stories as well as the adventures of Oogene, a young boy who squabbles with his sister Jeannie Mae (but the fights are always resolved by a moral lesson) and narrates “Oogene at the Zoo,” in which Oogene studies an animal and relates its role to a lesson from the Bible (“Oogene at the Farm” replaced the “Oogene at the Zoo” segment in some later episodes). Segments with Oogene and Jeannie tend to be unique, but the zoo and farm field pieces are repeated frequently throughout the series as filler for the show. Willie George voiced the majority of the various puppet skits, most notably Oogene and his sister Jeannie Mae.”

      …and as I recall, they were awfully cute!,…sorry that I can’t seem to get it out of my head, yet,…no disrespect intended,…just fond memories & associations!

      … (us “oldsters” don’t mind being “tolerated,”…it’s okay,…) …

      (-:

      • Georgie:

        Your story about the fever is amazing. I too have some dreams–brought on by a childhood illness–that still seem touchable today, though none about heaven. I don’t think I knew about heaven back then. I love it that they told you jokes. I hope there is humor and joking in heaven. Thanks for digging out those passages about “seeing God.” Well done!

        As to Oogene and Willie George ministries, I lived in Tulsa for 9 years and we would go out to Willie George’s camp and ride the Christmas Train. He was still producing the Gospel Bill show then and the camp was designed as a western town for the show. But I’ve never had the honor of meeting Oogene.

        God bless, Eugene

  2. Georgie-ann

    (-:

    http://www.biblegateway.com

    makes it easy to search for Bible verses by topic, words, scripture reference, and has many translations available,…

    I usually have a scripture “in mind” already that I’m looking for, but often find many other good ones in the process,…I hope others will enjoy using it,…it’s one of the best things a Christian friend “bookmarked” for me when we set up this computer!,…(thanks, Yvonne!),…

    (-:

    & I hope you meet Oogene someday, and tell us about some of your dreams,…

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