February 1, 2006
Forty feet below the surface my guide stopped his descent. All around the waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean bathed me in an ever-changing explosion of brilliant colors and overwhelming beauty. I had to force myself to suck air through my regulator.
As my guide turned, he presented me with a small oddly shaped fish with tan spots and sharp barbs protruding from its body. Taking the fish, very delicately to avoid the sharp points, I held it between my fingers. Suddenly, this little fish, full of sharp barbs, swelled to twice its size. We floated, human eye to fish eye, linked in a moment of confrontation.
Porcupine fish, when they perceive a threat, fill their stomachs with water, bloating themselves - a defense mechanism used to frighten their predators. A pretense of ferocity and size beyond ability. They become something they are not.
Often, we pretend to be what we are not.
Camped by the base of Mount Sinai, for forty days the people had waited for Moses. Moses of the ten plagues. Moses who defeated the armies of Pharaoh. Moses, who now stood before them with God’s law written on tablets of stone.
Standing before the people, Moses’ face glowed - an unmistakable brilliance that came as result of his being in God’s presence. God speaking directly to Moses. Moses is larger than life.
So, Moses put a veil over his face. Let’s face it, being around someone who’s face is glowing with the glory of God can be distracting if not a fearful experience. When the people the veil they would know that underneath was the radiance of God. But, at least they would not be afraid.
In 2 Corinthians 3:13 the Apostle Paul writes, “...not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away.” In other words, the veil stayed on long after the glory had faded. It became an outward symbol of what was not true below.
Often, hiding behind veils, we pretend to be what we are not. We cover ourselves with busyness, recreation, education, possessions, family, and even service for God. We live fearful weakened lives, afraid to look beneath the veil. What will we find? What wounds will be exposed? What inadequacy will we confronted with?
We live fearful of exposure. Someone may glimpse beneath the veil and see the emptiness below. Pointing to the failures and inadequacies of others, many would rather tear the veils off of others rather than risk their own exposure.
Paul writes, “Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:16,17).
There’s liberation from fear and insecurity through turning to the Lord. Making the choice to daily trust God with our lives so that our adequacy and the power to live life comes, not from ourselves, but from Him.
Paul wrote to people such as ourselves. “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from our selves, but our adequacy is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4,5).
When we place our confidence (trust) in God our adequacy comes from Him. Placing our confidence in God, the renewal of our lives, the power for living, even our very purpose and self-worth are found in His certain love and valuing of each one of us.
When Jesus went to the cross He took with Him all of our sins, our inadequacy and inability to measure up to God’s standard of holiness and righteousness. All of our failure was nailed to that cross with each nail that was driven through Jesus. Through His death and resurrection Jesus offers to us freedom from all this “veildom” and hiding because God, through Jesus, has made us to be adequate.
Freedom, boldness, and confidence in life comes when we admit to ourselves that all this fear and hiding and striving by our own effort will never make us adequate. We need to receive what Jesus has done for us on the cross. To turn to Him and let Him be our adequacy.Are you empty? Afraid of the opinions of others? Afraid to look beneath your veil? How about trusting the One who already sees behind the curtain and loves you? May we each open our lives to Him and take off our veils.