FAITH byHearing: Lean into the Light

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” Exodus 34: 29-30 (RSV)

“Don’t do that, he said. Stop, don’t do that.”

Now, in order to gain full appreciation for the seriousness of his command, you MUST read this statement with a tone of near breathless exasperation and irritation…because that is EXACTLY how he said it.


 We were standing outside of the Black Bear Café in sunny Mesa when I stepped out of the car and felt the urge to raise my arms high above my head towards the sky and bathe (bake) in the warmth (extreme heat) of the Arizona sun.

 “Don’t…… Do That…Don’t photosynthesize like that.”

Two thoughts immediately came to mind this moment that I was so rudely interrupted:

 First thought: “Photosynthesize, huh? Great word.  He’s so smart!”

 Second thought: “Why won’t my brother just let me be great?”

 [Shoulder shrug] So, I obliged and walk into the café.


Have you ever felt the irrepressible need to stop and surrender yourself to the beauty of God and God’s creation? Am I alone in this? Am I the only one who feels physically compelled to do this from time to time? Maybe. Probably. I hope not. But, it’s very likely.

 Are you at all familiar with this involuntary imperativeness to pause and bask? Deep breath to lungs…Music to ears…Out stretched hands to the sun. Photosynthesize.

30 years ago, I learned that photosynthesis was the process by which plants capture and use the sun’s light to convert toxic carbon dioxide into nourishing glucose. Plants accomplish this task by leaning into the light of the sun. 30 years later, I learned that this action is equally as important for us.

In Exodus 34, Moses’ encounter with God had unexpected implications. After Moses spent time on Mount Sinai, communing with God, the people saw that Moses’ face “was radiant” and “shone brightly.” The evidence of Moses’ time with God was embossed in his skin and could not be denied.

When we lean in and “photosynthesize” with the Son, toxicity is converted into testimony and God’s grandeur stands in full display. Any encounter with God should transform us instantaneously and perpetually. One should expect to grow stronger, shine brighter and blossom with a fullness that causes people to stop and gaze at the light of God emanating from every part of you.

May we always lean into, be enriched by and forever be changed when we encounter the all-encompassing light that is the presence of God.

Dr. Monique Williams