18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
God's goal has always been to be in close relationship with mankind. When man sinned, it drove a wedge between God and man. Ever since then, man has tried to find ways to placate God, but without making any real change. It's called religion.
Here in Exodus 20, God lays down the law for Israel. Yet, when the people saw what an awesome God he is, they grew deathly afraid. Rather than responding to the invitation of Moses to enter God's presence and gain that relationship, they decided they'd rather have one man go and speak to God for them (and for God to them.) They chose religion.
Religion requires an appearance of godliness, but denies (or declines access to) the power thereof- for it is a divine relationship with the almighty that produces true godliness.
Religion goes to church and returns home unchanged and unaffected. Relationship causes a person to become a part of the church- for a church is not a building or organization. The church is the born again believers of Jesus Christ.
Religion gives comforting platitudes that make you feel better. Relationship helps you to face your issues and become who God is calling you to be.
So, the people (having rejected Moses' call to relationship) stood back and watched as Moses walked deep into the darkness. Why did he do that? Could he not hear the thunder and see the lightning? Could he not feel the shaking of the mountain and surrounding areas? Why would this crazy man willingly choose to enter into such a dangerous place and into such obvious danger?
Because he knew that God was there in the midst of all they saw and feared. He longed for and desired a closer relationship- a covenant- with the God of the universe. He understood that he had to willingly choose God over the wants and desires of his flesh.
God allows us, indeed puts us into, storms. He calls us into storms at times, in order to work out things in us that need to come out. He allows our world to be shaken so that we will learn that our refuge is him. He leads us through darkness so that we will know that he is our only light in a dark world.
Hard times teach us to rely on him. This, in turn, allows us to help other people who are going through what we have already been through. We, who have been through the storm, can look into the storm and encourage those that are still going through it.
In other words, it's not about us. It's about God. It's not about us. It's about helping other people to survive what we have already lived through, by pointing them to the only one who can pull them out- Jesus.
Don't run from the storms and rely on religious platitudes. God is calling you into the high country. Storms are prevalent in those high places. But, God has called us to dwell in heavenly places with him. And the only way to do that, is to take his hand and walk through the storm.