Why do a large number of divorces occur after 25-30 years of marriage? Why are so many people bored and depressed with their life? Why do people turn to thrill seeking activities like substance abuse, affairs, dangerous hobbies or spending money they don’t have? One common denominator among all these people is they are not happy. Ask people what they want out of life, and a large percentage of the answers would be somewhere along the lines of “I just want to be happy?”
If you were given a magic lamp and three wishes, what would you wish for? What three wishes would you make to enable you to build a life you would truly enjoy? Rather than a mythical genie there is an account in the Bible (Exodus 33:12-33) between God and Moses along this line. As we look at the three things Moses asked God to do for him, we find in his requests three foundational truths that are essential to building a life you’ll truly enjoy living. Let’s study these ancient requests and see how relevant they are to us today.
Request One – Intimacy With God
In Exodus 33.13 Moses asks God, “Let me know your ways.” Why is he asking this of God? He tells us by knowing God’s ways he can know God better. By knowing God better, he can find favor in God’s sight. Favor or grace is God working on our behalf, doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Certainly we would rather have God work for us than against us.
How does knowing God better make us happier in life? Knowing God better helps us with doubt, fear, anxiety and the many “whys” of life — those times we don’t understand why God is doing or allowing certain events that we would see as negative. Being observant to what God is doing in this world, studying the works of God in the past (such as creation) and learning what God is truly like as we read God’s revelation of Himself in scripture are ways we come to know His ways better. Rather than getting angry about the negatives of life, discouraged about what we don’t understand or turning from God in disillusionment, we trust Him for we have learned what God is like. He is good, wise, loving and just. These conclusions come not from a surface understanding of God. They come form years of observation and experience with the ways, works and word of God.
The result of having this request answered by God is greater intimacy with God. You can know God from a distance but like anyone this will not be a true perspective. Study the lives of those who have greater intimacy with God and those who don’t. Who do you think are the happier people?
Request Two – Dependency on God
The second request Moses asked of God is found in Exodus 33.16: “God go with us on our journey.” On the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land the people sinned against God by committing idolatry with the Golden Calf. Their punishment was God said He would no longer go with them on the journey but instead send an angel with them. This was not sufficient for Moses; he wanted God Himself to go with them and asked God for such.
Moses knew neither he nor the nation could complete the mission God gave them on their own. They were not up to the task because it would also take spiritual power. All the miracles God worked through Moses and this nation were God’s doing. God glories Himself through His people. That is why God uses the weak and most unlikely people to accomplish His purposes (1Corinthians 1.26-29). When the work is done, it is obvious it had to be God’s doing. He alone gets the credit for it. Without God we are nothing. Living dependent upon God is another key to happiness.
Request Three – Reverence For God
Exodus 33.18 contains Moses’ third and final request of God: “Show me your glory.” God did all Moses asked and agreed to resume the journey with them. God said He would do this not because of the people but because of Moses. Moses had found favor in God’s sight and God knew Moses by name (v. 17). Moses had a special relationship with God. People who have this kind of relationship with God discover God will do things for them He won’t do for just anyone. Lest you think this unfair of God realize He offers this closeness to all who will take Him up on the opportunity.
God’s response to Moses’ requests created in Moses an even greater desire to know God in a deeper way to know the fullness of all God is. Moses would know more of God’s goodness, character, grace, forgiveness and justice. This would cause Moses to have even greater reverence for God. Reverence for God means to give God His rightful place in our life.
Reverence for God will lead to a happier and more enjoyable life. God is not a genie but the Bible is somewhat like a magic lamp. The difference is you read it rather than rub it.
Dr. John Hawkins, along with his son, John Jr., runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.