Of course, we all know how the story turned out, but in the middle of the twentieth century, many people thought no one would ever be able to run a mile in less than four minutes. Many of the strongest runners had tried and fallen short, and it was beginning to look like we, as a human race, had found our limit. Then, on a bit of a miserable day in 1954, Roger Bannister ran 3:59 in Oxford.
Fascinatingly though, Bannister only held the record for 46 days when John Landy ran 3:58. In fact, since 1954, hundreds of runners – from professionals to high school students – have beaten Bannister's mark. Sometimes, knowing that something is actually possible is the key to unlocking the pathway to finding it within our own story.
For me, and especially in Exodus 33, Moses is a prophet just like that. In Exodus 33:11, it says, "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." That's what I want for my spiritual life. It's as excellent as I can imagine, but at the very same time, sometimes, all I see are the years of unsuccessful attempts.
But Moses shows us something different. He reminds us that God is available for a kind of close friendship that maybe we thought wasn't possible. The limit of the spiritual life is not forgiveness, or even participation and service within the Christian community (though both are fantastic!). Actually, the furthest reach of God's invitation extends to the experience of friendship. Even the kind of friendship we know and enjoy with the people whom we love the most. That's the real horizon towards which God is beckoning.
So today, remember Moses, speaking with God as a friend about all that was ahead of him, and then stepping back out into his work and life within the community. Deep friendship with God in our daily lives is possible, and very much worth the pursuit.
was a teen at Foothills in the 90s and was sent by the church with his family to Indonesia to serve as a missionary in the field of theological education; he is presently senior pastor of Deer Park Alliance Church in Red Deer. He too loves to run but his wife is still far faster than he is.