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Friday, March 21, 2014

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 32:48–33:1, 28–29
On that very day the Lord addressed Moses as follows: “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die there on the mountain that you ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”

This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death.

So Israel lives in safety,
     untroubled is Jacob’s abode
in a land of grain and wine,
     where the heavens drop down dew.
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
     a people saved by the Lord,
the shield of your help,
     and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
     and you shall tread on their backs. (NRSV)

Moses doesn’t get to enter the promised land? What?! You’ve got to be kidding me! Moses, who didn’t want the job in the first place, who’s gone through so very much with this people? He doesn’t get to settle down, retire, enjoy the new home?

Not that Moses was perfect. God is clear on why Moses doesn’t get to enter the land. But really? For this one offense, Moses doesn’t get to finish this epic task he reluctantly took on? Moses had issues before he took on this leadership role—why is he being punished so badly now?

I can drive myself crazy challenging God’s will and justice, or I could ask, What am I reacting to here? What bothers me so much?

I want reward for my labors. I identify with a long journey that seems endless, continually striving and hoping and carrying on. I’m an actor. I believe I was called to this life; it’s what I was put on this earth to do. But as I face frequent rejection and financial insecurity, I don’t like a story that says I might die before I succeed!

But it’s not about Moses’ reward or success—or mine. He had the honor of playing a part. Unlike my incredulous feeling of unfairness, Moses doesn’t seem to have a trace of loss at this moment. He gives a blessing before he dies. No bitterness but a long, beautiful blessing for Israel. How unlike his reaction when he started. Did all the long years of struggle make him less selfish, give him perspective? Is it enough to know he was part of it all? Can I accept the fact that I might never reach anything resembling a promised land?

Dear God, I want to be able to bless the purpose of my journey like Moses did Israel, even upon knowing I’m about to die. Please help me to love and bless my journey. Amen.

Written by Kat Evans, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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