The children of Israel were terrified of God, they asked Moses to talk to God for them instead, otherwise they would perish. God had just delivered what we commonly refer to as the 10 commandments (there were many more, but that's a post for another day). As He spoke, all they heard and saw was thunder, a trumpet, lightning, and a mountain in smoke. What a mighty sight to behold. Moses would have to mediate, speak for them before God. Then verse 21 happens. Moses approaches the darkness where God was. That picture did not compute with my feeble mind. How is God in darkness? Perhaps to protect everyone from dying immediately if the saw Him? Is He not light? He did speak to Moses from a burning bush, meaning fire, meaning light. Where was darkness in all this?
Don't have any answers for you. But what I do have is something the Lord whispered to me as my brain was having a seizure from thinking all of this. Moses had to approach the darkness where He was. Right. So, raise your hand if you like to take a stroll in darkness, towards the sound of thunder, where lightning is striking, and where there is no other source of light around, oh, and there is tons of smoke. Anyone? Well, I would probably be crying like a 7 year old if you asked me to do that. Who knows, maybe I'd get to see - scratch that, it would be too dark to see - experience my first and last tornado.
Again, Moses had to approach the darkness where God was. That is what God whispered to me. Sometimes I think that when things are dark, when trials are grim, when pain is overwhelming, then God is not there. That it is all an attack from the one who desires our destruction and, therefore, I must hang on until the trial is over so that I can come out victorious on the other side. But what if, in my desire to approach God, I must also approach darkness? I must confess, this causes my heart to accelerate and I sort of start hyperventilating. Going, willingly, toward darkness (pain, suffering, darkness, uncertainty) is not my idea of seeking God, of seeking His face, His presence. Maybe I've been playing the part of the children of Israel very well: Sending someone else into the darkness to talk to God for me. But then, if I want to get to God Himself for myself, I must walk toward darkness, where God is, instead of running away from anything that could potentially bring discomfort.
The truth is, I need to stop seeing life through the glasses of pain or pleasure (anything that makes us happy and that does not cause pain or discomfort). Walking, following after Jesus, is both: Light and darkness, highs and lows, pain and pleasure. Not sure where I got the idea that one of our more important goals in life is to avoid discomfort. If I keep avoiding darkness, then I won't see God when He is in darkness. Approaching darkness takes an enormous amount of faith I don't have, but I know the One who builds my faith and who strengthens our faith. I will trust that He will build me so that I, too, can be like Moses and approach the darkness where God is, where He is.