Moses died on Friday. I knew it was coming. I was reading and I felt it. The end was approaching. So I peeked. I counted the days until I would get to that dreaded passage. Friday. I savored Thursday. Then of course, Friday came and went. There I was. I never really know what to do with myself when I have to say “goodbye” to certain characters in books I love. It happens a lot when I’m reading fiction. I’m afraid I relate all too well with people who aren’t even real sometimes. I always hate getting to the end. I feel like I’m leaving my friends behind. I close the book and just sit there like I just moved across the country from my best friends and I won’t get to ever see them or talk to them and it will never be the same again. I know it’s silly. It is a little different when I’m reading my Bible because of the obvious fact that these were real people. That makes me feel a little better about getting so attached. I think out of all the people in the Bible, I get most attached to Moses. I love going through life with him. What a ride. What a special dude. What a special relationship he had with God. (Did I mention, I get a little jealous if I’m honest? Ok, hopefully more challenged than jealous.) I don’t know if I really paid attention before or if I’ve just forgotten since the last time I read, but I felt like I learned something new all over again. At the end of Deuteronomy it explains that Moses went up to the mountain with the Lord. And that He (the Lord) buried him. “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley of Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” Deut. 34:5-6. What a cool dude. A legend. What a blessed relationship he shared with the Lord. I know after getting the behind the scenes footage between Moses and the Lord, I’m always left with more hope and desire than before. I can’t believe how much the God of the Universe actually desires to be with us and patiently leads us through all of our junk so that He can continue to do so. Up close and personal. I know there is an immeasurably vast different between the goodness of God and the “humanness” of myself. Somehow he beautifully bridges that gap. I write all of this about Moses just to set the stage. This isn’t really about Moses today.
I want to write about Joshua. You see, “The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.” Deut. 34:8. They grieved. Rightly so. They grieved until the time was over. Next verse. “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him.” The torch was passed. If you’re like me you get really comfortable sometimes. When you’ve got a good thing going you don’t want to get rid of it. Here’s a really cheesy sports analogy that some of you may not get at all. But, it’s kind of like the St. Louis Cardinals letting go of Albert Pujols. I loved that guy. (Well, I still do.) No one could say enough about his baseball performance. I couldn’t say enough about his character. There is much more involved in this baseball story, but what do you do when you let go of one of the greatest players of all time? What do you do when any sort of legend moves on? You keep moving too.
I was surprised by the Israelites. I thought they’d cling to Moses a little more. Grieve a little longer. Weep. Feel sorry for themselves. Hang on to the past. (That totally would have been me.) Nope. What do you know, they moved right along. Joshua steps up to the plate. He has already proven faithful. He’s been commended by the legend. Most importantly, he’s been commended by the Lord. I’m quickly reminded that the book of Deuteronomy left off with unfinished business. Important unfinished business. It was the end for Moses, but God’s story had yet to be finished. He had promises to be fulfilled. Big ones. None of this was going to happen until Moses was off the scene. As sad as I was to say goodbye, I was struck with a sense of anticipation and excitement this time around. God was on the move! God was about to use Joshua in some big ways. Again, there is reason for great hope. On they go. This morning they crossed the Jordan. Joshua gathered up the people. He told them to have their bags packed and ready to move on out. “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4. I love it. There they are. Packed up. Waiting. Watching. I could feel the anticipation myself. Watching. Waiting. Waiting. Watching. They don’t even know where they are going. “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” Joshua 3:5. Oh man. I wonder what they were thinking. To be in that moment. To not have the story written just yet. To be waiting on and wondering about the amazing things of the Lord. Well, they got off to a pretty stellar start. You can read Joshua 3 and 4 for yourself if you want to. It makes me smile. There’s something about God doing just what He promised. Something about God’s promises fulfilled in the lives of His people. Something about the relief you have and the confidence you gain when God comes through after all. As many times as God has proven Himself faithful in His Word and in my life, I still wonder at times. What if He doesn’t come through? What if I look like an idiot? What if? What if? What if?
I love the celebration of this moment. I know there are still many amazing ones to come soon as I travel with the Israelites into the Promised Land. Tonight I just wanted to pause and reflect for a moment though. I needed to remind myself that I can’t experience hope fulfilled when I ‘m stuck in the comforts of the past. I’m a pretty sentimental person. I can hang on to things forever and ever. It feels good. It really does. It makes me happy. I think it’s ok to store some of those things away. Like God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to take a stone to remember all that God had done. But He didn’t call them to take a stone and build a couch. It wasn’t to sit where they were. It was to move forward and remember. Oh what precious moments the Lord gives us as we continue to hope in Him. To believe He is going to do what He says He’ll do. And to look out for the amazing things He has yet to do. I challenge you. I challenge myself. Keep your eyes open for the Lord will do amazing things among you. Maybe you need to let go of something. Store it is as a smile in your heart and move forward. Maybe let go of your plan of just how God is going to work and who He is going to use. Or maybe you just need to be challenged with an extra portion of hope and anticipation in your life. May your heart be expectant before the Lord.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Eph. 3:20-21.