When I hear the words “Promised Land” I envision rich farmland with livestock, rolling fields of vineyards, and the sun glinting off a river. This is not the Promised Land TV series on Hulu, but a mental picture of a Promised Land scene. For Moses the Promised Land began as a destination. Now looking out over a similar landscape God allows Moses to view Israel’s Promised Land from Mt. Nebo (Deut 34). Moses has led the wandering Israelites 40 years through the Sinai desert while each trial and victory reshapes and transforms the hearts of these feisty travelers. Moses has undergone his own spiritual transformation in the journey. As Moses surveys the land imagining Israel’s future generations, does he choke back tears or is he filled with grateful contentment knowing that his next journey is heavenward and not the fertile valley of the Jordan? We don’t have the opportunity to hear Moses’ response to God’s announcement that he isn’t entering the Promised Land (Nu 27:12-14). Moses seems content; his arduous journey is over; he is at peace with himself, and God.
Moses’ peaceful countenance is a remarkable accomplishment after trudging endless desert miles in circular fashion with a tribe of complainers only to discover God, His Sustainer, His Provider, His Heart Healer, His Friend is not granting him passage into the land of milk and honey. Fast-track the path Moses has navigated as he stands at the precipice of Mt. Nebo gazing at the land God gave to his forefather, Abraham in Genesis 12:14-15; a burning bush experience, saying “yes” to becoming God’s spokesman to Pharoah, Zipporah’s last minute decision to circumcise her son in order to save Moses’ life, consistent food and beverage complaints, a full on party celebrating around a golden calf, venomous biting snakes, war, consistent travelling in uninhabited places, fatigue – a 40 year road trip.
Moses is just one person. One person called by God to lead a people to a destination called the Promised Land. Moses manages to faithfully overcome each trial instead of packing up his family and returning to Midian. From the moment Moses laid eyes on the burning bush, he becomes alert to the presence of God. His courage banks on knowing the success of the desert journey which depends on God’s leadership and his attention to God’s instruction. But Moses leadership is more than God strategy. Moses learns by necessity, what is essential: Moses understood his spirit’s need for replenishment. He knew his soul needed to delight itself in God for God’s own sake. Moses plunged into the spiritual rhythms of worship and Sabbath and became a friend to God. In the midst of thousands of people, and his own family, Moses created space for being alone with God.
Moses’ story has taught me to be in touch with something more real than what I can do or produce. In solitude with God I receive counsel, friendship, and peace. In His presence my soul is restored. This is “soul care,” caring for the mind, body and SOUL. In the tension of life instead of longing for the next vacation, rave reviews from a professor, or perks for the journey ahead, I want to be like Moses, and press into His glorious presence (Ex 33:18). This was Moses’ strength: he sought the presence of the LORD. He stood in awe of his God, yet enjoyed a close, friendship with his Creator. As a result, at 120 Moses climbs Mt. Nebo! His eyesight and strength unimpaired. Like Moses, I have discovered the Promised Land is not a destination. The Promised Land is the presence of God.
Press in, spend a Sabbath day in the presence of God. Return to a restorative niche and create, experience a sunrise, run, walk, ride your bike, sit by a stream, allow your soul to delight itself in God. Your Promised Land awaits.