Good Morning Brothers…
One of my favorite times of hunting season is before dawn. More specifically, being in the woods before dawn. In the darkness, I have to rely on my other senses to identify my surroundings. My nose has been trained to pick up the scent of chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven, so it is not much help. My hands feel the cold rough edges of stone and my feet press down on the unevenness of rocks and from those sensations I can paint a picture of my immediate surroundings. My ears pick up sounds from the movement of my own body but also listens for sounds of movement beyond. The sounds of my own body become a background noise while the sounds from beyond take center stage for the process of analyzing. Determining sounds from beyond become important to my next step. The sounds of running water growing louder indicate the water is also getting closer and can cause me to stop moving until I can identify the next step. The sound of a bear huffing in the darkness can cause me to freeze and my spine to tingle. Determining the difference between the footfall of an elk and the hop of a squirrel can drive any hunter insane.
This past weekend I attended a Mens Encounter. For those of you who don’t know what that is, let me explain it this way. It’s similar to a Christian mens retreat except Christian men should never retreat, we should always advance deeper into the kingdom life. A Mens Encounter starts the equipping process for men to advance, to move forward. I have attended many of these in the past, however, I have never attended one without participating with my eyes. There is a small prayer room off to the side of the sanctuary. During the sessions, after we prayed for the speakers, I would sit there in the dark, with the door cracked, and listen to the Encounter. My mind would drift into a meditative state as I listened to the sounds of men encountering the presence of the Almighty.
Exodus 24:12-18 says, “Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.” Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”
This is part of the story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments from God the Father. What is interesting is that Moses was not alone, until he was called into the midst of the cloud. Joshua, his servant and the next in line to lead the Hebrew nation, was also on the mountain. Joshua did not enter into the midst of the cloud, but he was near enough to hear. I do not know if he heard the voice of Moses and the voice of the Almighty. But he was near enough to listen to the presence. What did it sound like? The text says it was like a consuming fire. Did Joshua hear the sound of fire? Did Joshua hear the rushing of wind? Did Joshua hear the movement of God’s holy presence? I don’t know…but I do know what I heard.
I heard the sounds of restrained voices growing stronger and louder with each passing song. I heard the restlessness of men moving in their chairs when conviction came calling. I heard the soft soothing sounds of brothers uttering words of encouragement. I heard the sounds of embrace and the repetitive slaps of hands against a brothers back. I listened as truth was declared and Jesus was crowned victorious. I heard the heart of men as they cried out in prayer and in turn felt the heart of Jesus in return. I listened to the conversations of men in love with their Lord. I heard and felt the violent outbursts of men purging their past, in acts of confession and surrender. I heard the revelations of forgiveness and the outpouring of joy.
I don’t know what Joshua heard on the mountain for forty days, but I do know the results. He was strong and courageous and he led a Hebrew nation across the Jordan River, into the promised land, and did battle with the enemy. Joshua had the patience to listen. This weekend, I had the patience to listen. My hope and prayer is that we all will have the patience to listen…to listen to PRESENCE. Let us all change our surroundings, change our context, find a quiet place, open up a dialogue with our Maker…and listen.
We will be amazed at the things we will hear.