Christ Church, Susquehanna
And the Lord said to Moses, Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west,
to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.
But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over
at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see.”
There are some challenges in life so daunting and energy consuming that we would prefer to take a pass on them or go take a nap. These differ for us all but they may include sustaining a relationship, raising children, caring for elderly parents, and navigating challenges in the workplace and staying employed. Closer to home, they may include the challenges of being Christians in a sometimes hostile environment. If we do have some success with our challenges, we may be tempted to insist on enjoying the fruits of labor and be known for being successful.
In today’s reading, Moses reminds the Israelites when they were at such a point. They had just defeated King Og of Bashan, destroyed Og’s sixty fortress towns and taken over entire regions. Not to be forgotten are the Israelites’ victories over King Sihon, the two kings of the Amorites and numerous other rulers and peoples. (The Israelites’ challenges are preserved for us today in the form of proper nouns that our lesson readers on Sunday morning must stumble through.) The Israelites surely were exhausted. Moses tells them that they need to stick with God’s vision for the journey and that rest will come later. Moses also tells them how he encouraged Joshua by reminding Joshua what his own eyes had seen and that the Lord was fighting on Joshua’s side. Moses then slips up by asking God that Moses cross the Jordan and enjoy the Promised Land. God tells Moses that he won’t make it to the final destination and that he needs to prepare his successor.
After reading Numbers and Deuteronomy (by themselves, daunting challenges), I was struck by the sense that Moses was reminding the Israelites that there were times in their history when they had run solely on adrenaline in executing God’s plan. I also was impressed at Moses’ ability to draw strength for today by looking to the past. This seemed to be a message to the Israelites that they would need to do the same again.
Are there challenges in my life’s journey that may require me to run on some adrenaline and set aside rest and relaxation? You bet, way too many at the moment. What pastime or work commitment must I set aside in order to repair a relationship, care for another or make that tiring cross-country trip? Sure, I can list those preferred activities, but actually setting them aside is where things get tough. Can I draw strength for this journey by what I’ve seen of God’s love in the past? Yes, I’m sure I can. Just the act of listing examples of God’s strength is similar to counting blessings.
Golly, this journey could be tiring. I’m glad I’ve started preparing for the rigors of travel and have energy bars to put in my bag.
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