“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Trying to see what the inside of the fridge looks like when it’s dark.” But because the light turns off when the door closes, doing so was impossible. Some realities just aren’t visible, and in this case, it was how the ketchup and mustard bottles appeared in the dark.
Do you ever wish you could look at something that you couldn’t see? Like what’s behind the closed doors in another person’s life, or wanting to preview the outcome of a decision before having to make it. Maybe it’s wanting to see the end result from a past choice made…or not made. And wouldn’t it be reassuring to see into those places that are on the road ahead…like into the lives of our children? Who will they become? What will they be like as adults? Will they be healthy? What will their passions be? Careers? Will they marry and have children? How do we settle those “what if” questions of what’s to come and what could have been? I wonder what Moses would say.
Moses sadly, was not permitted to cross the Jordan to go into Canaan. As we read in the book of Exodus, we see a nation coming out of one place and going into another. We see a man, appointed by God, to lead an oppressed people out of bondage and into deliverance, freedom, and an everlasting covenant with 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. 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 whole region from the top of Mount Nebo, he did not have the satisfaction of personally stepping onto its soil. We deem this to be sad, frustrating and disappointing for Moses because we want his hard work to end with a reward. He faithfully led a disobedient nation for 40 years through the wilderness, teaching, instructing and praying for them while enduring their verbal abuse, disobedience and rebellion. We want to see Moses cross that finish line. We want to see him arrive and physically bring Israel to the destination God had prepared for them, and see him experience the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a job well done.
I think Moses’ Promised Land wasn’t that Promised Land. Moses’ Promised Land may have been the intimate relationship he had with God. “The Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) Moses had a unique relationship with God. Though he didn’t see God face-to-face, he was acquainted with God and God spoke to him as a friend, at times, audibly.
When Moses asked God to show him His glory because he wanted to see him in all his splendor, not masked by a burning bush or clouds, 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 greater accompanied by your faith in the unseen. You may not see the 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.
In my daughter’s case, the land was a shelf of condiments.
“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)