“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Trying to see what the inside of the fridge looks like when it’s dark,” she answered.
I stuck my head in next to hers seeing how far we could extend our necks without the light turning off.
At least I knew our choice in appliances was a good one. The light remained on.
Some realities just aren’t visible, and in this case, seeing how the ketchup and mustard containers looked in the dark would remain an unknown.
Do you ever wish you could look at something impossible to see? Like wanting to preview the outcome of a decision before having to make it or the end result from a past choice not made or made. Maybe it’s wanting to see what lies beneath someone’s comment or behavior and what lies behind their closed doors. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to see into those places on the road ahead…like into the lives of our children? What will they be like as adults and what can I do now to ensure they have integrity, use good judgment, and stay protected? Will they be healthy? What will their passions be? Will they choose the right spouses, become moms and dads? Will they be okay? Will I be okay?
And do I really want to know?
How do we settle those “what if” questions of what’s to come and what we can’t possibly see?
Not having been able to physically lead the Israelites into the Promised Land but having been able to see it high above from Mount Nebo, I wonder what Moses would answer. Moses didn’t get to witness the outcome of those whom he was leading, at least not on earth.
As we read in the book of Exodus, we see a man chosen by the LORD, to free and shepherd an oppressed people from bondage so they could move to deliverance, freedom, and an everlasting covenant with their Almighty God.
Before Moses’ death, God tells Moses to ascend Mount Nebo in Moab where he will be able to look across the Jordan River and see Canaan before he dies. God tells Moses that He will not be able to go into the land but he will be able to see the land from a distance. “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” (Deut., 34:4)
Although Moses could see the region from the top of Mount Nebo, he did not have the satisfaction of personally stepping onto the soil. I use to think this was a tragedy. I wanted his hard work to end with the reward of seeing his work come to foruition. Moses faithfully led a disobedient nation for 40 years through the wilderness, teaching, instructing and praying for them while enduring their push-back, disobedience and rebellion. I wanted to see Moses cross the finish line from the committed course he ran with blood, sweat and tears. I wanted to see him arrive and carry Israel to the destination God had prepared for them, the land flowing with milk and honey.
Perhaps Moses’ Promised Land wasn’t that Promised Land. Moses’ Promised Land may have been the intimate relationship he enjoyed with God. “The Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) Moses had a close relationship with God. Though he didn’t see God face-to-face, Moses was acquainted with Go,d who spoke to him as a friend and father. At times, audibly while he kept Moses close.
When Moses asked God to show him His glory, God gave Moses one of the most significant revelations about Himself found in the Bible. “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. ‘But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ Then the LORD said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’ ” (Exodus 33:21)
Moses was able to see something far greater than the Promised Land. He was able to see and experience God’s favor and glory, as well as experience the blessings that come from being a faithful leader in obedience to God’s call. He also experienced a beautiful, close relationship with God, which we have the opportunity to enjoy today. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and through His blood and resurrection, He has paid the penalty for our sins, and as a result, we can experience that same “face-to-face” closeness with God that Moses did….each and every day.
So wherever God calls you to go, walk by faith and know that He might be leading you to a place where the end result you had hoped for might not be visible by earthly standards. Wherever God has called you out from, you can trust that not knowing the rest of that particular story is part of your present story…with plans to bring you to something great, even if you can’t see it.
You may not see nor experience the visible end result, but the journey God has for you, with its hardships and blessings, may very well be your promised land rather than the land itself. And sometimes, seeing it from a distance is good enough.
In my daughter’s case at that moment, she would have to wonder what those condiment bottles looked like in the dark and trust that sometimes not being able to see, is part of God’s plan.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18)
“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)