|Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17|
|1 Thessalonians 2:1-8|
It is a great theme song for this morning's scripture lessons.Refrain: God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
(S/)he will take care of you,
God will take care of you.
At the 8 o'clock service, someone asked whether Moses, like Jesus, was born to the task. Was it his destiny to liberate the Hebrew Nation from bondage in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land? Just as it was the destiny of Jesus to lead us from the bondage of sin into the promise of Eternal Life?
That led to a wonderful, rich discussion about destiny vs. free will. What if Moses had said 'no' to God? What if Jesus had 'let this cup pass' from him?
Certainly, they had lots of obstacles in their path. What if they had just stopped there?
And then, there's Moses. When we meet him this morning, he has been allowed to see the Promised Land, but not to live in it. He dies at the ripe old age of 120.
Do you know why it took forty years of wandering around in the desert before they got to their destination? I wondered that, too, and then I remembered learning about that, way back when, in seminary. I remember reading in Numbers 13:1-33 how Moses sent out 12 scouts to check out the land of Canaan, but 10 of them thought it was too dangerous to inhabit because, they thought, it was inhabited by giants.
You can almost see Moses having a 'face palm moment', sighing, and saying, "Oy!" He figured out right quick that these people - his people, the people God had called him to serve - had lived in slavery for so long they were afraid of freedom.
So, he figured he'd wander around the desert with them until the 'slave generation' died and then the new generation, those who had never felt the sting of the whip or suffered the pain of hunger to be able to fully embrace life in the Promised Land.
As my dear friend, Louie Clay says, "Where there's death, there's hope."
Jesus turned the tables on the wall. Moses followed it for awhile.
Which reminded me of a story my father told me.
My father was not an educated man. He was pulled out of school in the sixth grade to work on his father's farm during the Depression. Then, when he was 18, he was drafted into the Army during WWII and fought on the Pacific Front.
One of the top three things I remember about my father was the nightmares he would have about his experiences in war. My father was also an alcoholic. I believe my father suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and used alcohol to 'medicate' himself from the pain he felt.
Life with Father was never easy, but I treasure this story as one of the few but precious gifts he gave me.
He said he was in the Philippines during WWII and, at one point, he and about four or five of his buddies got separated from their battalion. Before they knew it, night fell and, he said, in the jungle the sky was so dark he couldn't see his hand in front of him, much less figure out their location by looking at the compass.
So, they walked along it, feeling their way in the dark.
They did this all night. In the pitch black night. No knowing where they were. No knowing where they were going. Cursing the wall until exhaustion took over and they fell asleep at the wall.
When they awoke, the morning light was filtering through the trees and, over the wall, they could hear the sound of men's voices. One of the men lifted another man up so he could peer over the wall. When he came down, he was as pale as a sheet. He said, 'Guys! It's the Japanese. The enemy!"
And, my father said, "Elizabeth, never curse a wall. It might be there to protect you."
There are times, in life, when we are on the path we believe God has called us to follow and suddenly, an obstacle appears. And, in those moments, we have a choice.
Or, like Jesus, we can turn the tables on the obstacle and stop it rather than have it stop us.
Or, like Moses, we can just walk along it for a while, until the time is right to make your move.
Either way, when a wall appears, it's not the end of the story. You have some choices. Your destiny is dependent upon your free will, your ability to choose how you will deal with the walls life sometimes puts in our path.
And, either way, no matter what you decide, God will take care of you.