In my ministry as a spiritual director, I often hear directees, especially those new to the walk of faith, become overwrought by what they perceive to be an unanswered prayer. God may seem distant or not present at all. This hiddenness is disconcerting, troubling, and challenging to them.
And yet, throughout the tradition of Christian spirituality, we are reminded that progressing in the way of love, step by tiny step, will sometimes lead us to a time of unknowing. We begin to find that our prayer dries up, or our long-loved images of divine presence fall apart. As hard as it may be, the tradition tells us that these moments are of God. We are being led deeper into the mystery of God, and anything that was becoming a bit idolatrous goes by the wayside.
To use the words of Psalm 99, we are encountering that pillar of cloud. Often this occurs in the midst of personal difficulty or tragedy. Sometimes it just happens for no discernible reason. Many of the saints tell us that this passage, while disorienting, happens when God is drawing us closer to God’s own self. John of the Cross goes so far as to say God is weaning us off mother’s milk and getting us to stand up. Any of you who have nursed a baby know that there’s a tenderness in weaning for both mother and child. That said, failure to wean at the right time is truly problematic.
As your own walk in love unfolds, may you trust God, your companion on the way. May you know that the voice in the pillar of cloud is a voice of love.
As I walk through this day, dear Friend, may I heed your voice, and may I trust that you are ever with me, even when I am feeling bereft of your presence. Amen.
God’s glory is always revealed, even if never completely. When Moses encounters God on the mountain, his face undergoes a physical transformation as a reflection of God’s greater glory. The psalmist reminds us of how great God is and how even Moses and Aaron bow before God’s throne. Paul refers to the story of Moses, but because of Christ, God’s glory is now more openly revealed. There is no need to wear a covering as Moses did, for Christ reflects openly the divine radiance. Luke recounts the Transfiguration, when the face of Jesus, like that of Moses, begins to shine. God’s voice reinforces the revelation of the Transfiguration, declaring Jesus to be God’s Son and the revelation of God’s glory.
Read Exodus 34:29-35. Consider the ways you provide evidence of your faith. Do you display it for your glory or for God’s?
Read Psalm 99. How do you seek a healthy balance of awe and intimacy in your relationship with God?
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2. What “veil” separates you from God—a sense of unworthiness, a hardened heart, a lack of understanding?
Read Luke 9:28-43a. Jesus shines with God’s glory, but then he gets back to his work of healing. Consider how God might transform you to do better the work you are already doing for God.
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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