I recently watched a news conference by the President of the United States. It was being conducted at the White House in the press briefing room. We’ve all seen either the White House Press Secretary, or the President himself standing at the podium in that room fielding questions from the White House press corp. It’s usually a crowded room, filled with anxious reporters who desperately want to be called upon, so they can get answers to what they consider to be pressing questions of the day.
I was interested in what the President would be saying, too, and that’s the reason I watched. I sat in my living room waiting. As the reporters at the White House waited respectfully for the President to enter the room, one of the television commentators mentioned that the President was running late. Since he had been involved in a series of important meetings all morning long, “It’s not surprising that he’s running late,” said the commentator.
But then, in the midst of what sort of felt like listening to mindless blabber or someone trying to kill time, the television commentator said, “We’ve just received the two-minute warning.”
What he meant was that the White House press corp had been alerted to stand-by for action. If all went as planned, the President would be out and ready to field questions in two minutes. But it wasn’t two minutes. It wasn’t five minutes or ten or even twenty. More that thirty-five minutes after the two minute warning, the President entered the room, and every reporter stood to their feet in honor of the President and his office. He spoke first, making a statement about some of the recent happenings in our world, and what he intended to do. And then, he read the name of the first reporter who was being allowed to ask her question. And the questioning and answering began. When he was finished, he walked out of the room as some reporters continued to shout questions at him, while most of the others scattered to file their stories.
I must confess that as the press conference concluded, my mind wandered from what the President had said, to another scene I had read about earlier in the week in the Bible. It involved waiting, and reporting, and hoping to hear from a leader, too.
In Exodus, chapter 33, God’s Word says that Moses used to pitch a tent he called the tent of meeting outside the camp of the Israelites. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his own tent, and watch Moses. There was no two-minute warning, like reporters get when they’re waiting for the President. Instead, a pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of that tent, and the Lord would show up to speak with Moses, face to face, like a man speaks to his friend. And all the people would continue to stand, worshipping and waiting. Waiting to hear what God had said to Moses when he came out of that tent.
Something interesting, though. When Moses returned to the camp, to report to the people what God had to say? His servant Joshua, stayed in the tent.
I have no idea what was happening inside that tent after Moses left. I’ve often wondered. We don’t know if God was speaking to Joshua or not. All we know for certain is that Joshua stayed in that place where he had witnessed God talking to Moses, the leader of all Israel. He had listened to a face-to-face conversation between God and Moses as if it were a chat between one man and another. And the impact of that scene kept him there, on the inside of that tent. He didn’t want to leave.
I wonder? At that news conference I watched the other day, when all the reporters dashed out of the room to report on what the President had said? I wonder what it would have been like to stay in that briefing room all by yourself, and after everyone left, and be overwhelmed with what you had witnessed? Being in the company of the President of the United States?
The bible says that Joshua was a young man. But I will always believe he was overwhelmed and wise beyond his years. What he had witnessed in that tent was profound. I believe that staying in that tent changed his life. Ps. 42:2 asks a haunting question,“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” There’s a lot to be said for the wisdom of waiting, waiting to hear what God might have to say to me — personally — especially after everyone else has left the meeting.