When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the day I would be a “grown-up.” I longed to make my own decisions and direct my own life. I had no thoughts of the other “grown-up” things such as deadlines, mortgage payments, and taxes. All I could fantasize about was, “I’m gonna be free! I’ll be able to do whatever I want and it’s gonna be great!”
Now in my 50’s, I look back and see all the deadlines met, disciplines developed, and hard work required to get here. Had I seen all of this down the road ahead when I was 12 years old, I probably would have been pretty discouraged. The road to adulthood was not as paved with ease and freedom as I thought it would be. Even more surprising to my 12-year-old self, is the fact that many of the difficulties that would have seemed overwhelming, in hindsight, now stand among my greatest joys. To get where I wanted to be required countless hours of study and disciplined work. I denied myself long hours of sleep and joyful relaxation on weekends or leisurely evenings. To be the Dad I wanted to be required countless little sacrifices of my own self-serving desires in favor of giving my kids and my wife the time, energy, and attention they deserved. Looking back, I do not regret those choices or feel cheated out of anything I gave up.
Reflecting on this, I think of Moses. He faithfully led the Israelites on a journey of more than 4 decades through one difficult trial after another. Through it all he had his eye set on a land “flowing with milk and honey;” a paradise promised to the people of God. In Deuteronomy 34, he is finally at the place where their entry is imminent. God takes him up on a high cliff and shows him the entire Promised Land. Moses must have been like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Everything he had been working for was about to come true. His hard work and faithful struggle was about to pay off. Then we read these words, “I have let you see this land with your own eyes, but you will not cross over into it. And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab.” (Deut.34:4,5) What! Moses, who had been so faithful and endured so much, never got the reward he longed for! How can this be?
Do you think Moses felt cheated? I think I would. Still, through the eyes of faith I can see a further exchange between Moses and God. When Moses closed his eyes in death, he opened them in eternity. I believe God said to him, “Open your eyes and look around. Now this is the Promised Land!” I don’t believe that for one second Moses wished he could go back to the dust and heat-drenched ground of Palestine. All of his faithful struggle and hard work had paid off. The final destination was even better than he had imagined.
This reminds me that God is faithful. He promises to carry us through our hard days to greater rewards than we can now see. Paul gives us a couple words toward this end. Pay attention to these words of hope: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Php1:6) and “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Even today, in the midst of these hard times, let us keep our eyes on the Promised Land. We could not foresee what this last year has brought, but neither can this trial we face take away what God has planned for us within this life and in eternity.