Day 50--Unexpected Gifts--"Being With God"--Deuteronomy 31 - 34
February 18, 2021, 4:30 PM

Blog for St. John’s  2/19/2021 by Helen Smith, St. Lukes, Catskill, NY

And so it ends – we have finished the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, Torah, the holiest of scripture to our Jewish friends.  On the one hand, what a relief!  Hopefully we’re done with the telling and the retelling and the further retelling of ALL the laws the Israelites needed to obey to find favor with God.  And yet, endings often mean goodbyes.  And today we said goodbye to the man the Israelites could rely on (whether they wanted to or not) these last 40 years.  Moses was a constant and consistent presence in our reading these last many weeks.  He taught us about faithfulness to God in times of trial.  He taught us about leadership.  And he taught at least me about how to say Yes to God when I want to say No.  Oh Lord, may I have an ounce of the faith in and loyalty to You that Moses did

Personally, I found God’s punishment of Moses when he tapped the rock twice at Meribah, more than a tad harsh,  “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).  REALLY?  And yet, at the end of Deuteronomy, God gave Moses an incredible gift.  Perhaps an equal or even greater gift, in my opinion, than entering the Promised Land.  Moses goes up to the top of Mount Nebo and “The Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, and the Plain…as far as Zoab” (Deuteronomy 34:1-3).  What a view!  I’m a hiker and there’s nothing better than the vast view from the top of a high mountain on a clear day.  It’s breathtaking and honestly, I have no interest in exploring all I can see from the top.  Moses knew he wasn’t entering the Promised Land; he’d known it for years.  God gave him, what I like to think, was an unexpected beautiful gift. 

As we enter the season of Lent one of the things we’re called to is self-examination.  Yes, much of that examination is to be on our sins, on how we’ve “missed the mark” in living out our lives as Christians.  And yet, this Lent may we also find and examine the unexpected beautiful gifts God has given us. 

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