Waking to the Promised Land
Recently, I made some remarks at the funeral of a brother who had passed on. His family asked me to put those remarks to paper. The following is an attempt to do so.
It seems that no matter how long we live, we are seldom ready for the end of life to come. When life ends before the usual time we are obviously thrown into shock and grief. But even when someone has lived “three score and ten,” we are often filled with pain no less sharp. We weren’t quite ready to say goodbye…and we likely never would have been. If you have ever felt this way at seeing a long life come to a close you are not alone.
After living 120 years on this earth Moses drew near to the end. One might think that surely after 120 years that one would feel that the end would actually be a relief. Moses even says, “I am no longer able to come and go” (Duet. 31:2). But in spite of all of those years, and in spite of waning energy he said, “O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? ‘Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon” (Deut. 3:24-25). Did you catch that? After 120 years Moses feels that God had only begun to show His greatness…and Moses is right. After 120 years Moses wants to see one more thing. I think I can imagine it, because I have watched loved ones go and wanted just a few more words with them. I just want to tell them one more thing or hear one more word of wisdom, one more word of love, one more word of assurance from their lips. It’s not even that they “left before their time.” It’s that they left before MY time.
So then the end comes for Moses. In Deuteronomy 34, he is allowed to go to the top of a mountain and see what he is missing out on. Do you think that was a cruel trick? It wasn’t. In fact, as I think of it, I consider the notion of the last sight in this life being the thing I most want to see and yet cannot realize. Moses’ eyes close as he looks over to that land of promise but what do his eyes open to? Of course it is the true promise land. Can you imagine the contrast? As Moses beholds the glory of God, can you imagine him thinking that he missed out on something? Perhaps, looking over that land wasn’t a reminder that he “missed out” but a reminder that such was never the true land of promise. He fell asleep looking at a promise he missed out on and awoke to the only one that ever mattered.