When you use your family as an illustration or an example there are two distinct dangers. One, the audience will think, “Man, that is one messed up family,” which is probably true but no more messed up than any other family. Or two, they will think, “Man, that is one cool family. They really have it all together,” which is NOT true, but no more not true that any other family. The truth is, my family is the one I know the best. I am sure your grandkids are the best and the brightest. I’m just not with them every day. I imagine your sons are giants among men. I just don’t talk to them on the phone every day. I assure you, your family is awesome and when you get up at 3AM each morning to write a blog you can write about them. (Oh my, did that sound bitter?) It’s been a long month. ?
Last night we did a tradition that we started three or four years ago. Sometime very early in the year, we meet as a family and spend the evening talking, praising God for what He has done, and praying for direction for the new year. Josh and Jennifer, Jacob and Allison, Doris and I, and Jon-Mical and Jakson (as long as they can make it) gather in a circle and tell stories of how God has worked in our lives this year, of what we hear Him saying for the days ahead, and of His goodness to us in general. Last night, Allison read the list of the things we felt the year before that God was going to do with us, different jobs, new medical direction, provision for school, and one by one, we checked off the wonderful miracles He has performed in our lives this year.
I remembered a “vision” I had early in my recovery. I was laying in my casket, (thought I’d end this blog on a real upbeat note), and Josh and Jacob were standing there. They were tall, handsome, strong men. Josh said to Jacob, (I told you it was a vision, yes, I could hear them), “He never amounted to much, but He loved God and He loved us.” And in my vision, I remember thinking, “That is enough.”
Moses has come to the end. His final act in Deuteronomy is to bless each of the tribes of Israel. One by one, he goes around the circle and pronounces God’s goodness over them. And then, he dies. Not a lot of fanfare. No big exit scene. Deuteronomy 34:5 says, “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.” God did let him climb the mountain and see over into the promised land, but that is as close as he got. He performed some mighty miracles in Egypt. He brought the Jews out of captivity. He wandered around in the wilderness for forty years. He fought some amazing battles. He even got to see God a couple of times. But in the end, he died. I’m thinking that Joshua and Caleb and some of the others said, “Well, he never really got to go into the promised land. He never amounted to much. But he loved God and he loved us. And that was enough.”
Listen, I am not trying to drag you down on this last day of January, but in the end, all that stuff you are trying to do, all the awards and accolades, all the promotions and degrees and titles, will not really be what matters. All people will truly remember is that you loved God and you loved the people around you. You know the bumper sticker, “The one who dies with the most stuff…is still dead.” About the best we can hope for is to win a few battles, see God once or twice, and maybe get a peek at the Promised Land before the last chapter.
Okay, thanks for following along in this blog all month. It’s been real.
Wait a minute, we can’t stop like that. If all that we just said is true, and it is, then what is this all about? How are we supposed to live? What should I be doing today? I am SO glad you asked.
Look at the last few verses of Deuteronomy. Here is what it says about Moses and here are some ideas for us, maybe even some goals for the coming year.
- He still had his strength. Verse 7, “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak, nor his strength gone.” First, we just keep going. There is never a retirement home mentioned in the Bible. God never instructs us to quit the battle. Oh, we take a Sabbath rest every once in a while, we may change direction now and then, but influencing our family, being a Godly man or woman in front of them, does not have an ending point. I like the phrase that says, “I want to bounce my last check.” Forgive me Dave Ramsey, but that is not about finances or budget. It just means I will stay strong in the task that God has given me to the very end.
- The people mourned his passing. “The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plain of Moab for thirty days.” (verse 8) Second thing, make them miss you when you are gone. Remember the Christmas Carol? Not the baby in a manger one but the Ebenezer Scrooge one. He got to see what people thought about him when he was gone. They were rejoicing and dancing in the streets, not because he had lived but because he died. I don’t want to be like that.
The older I get, the more I think about me. My bones hurt, my back aches, the music is too loud, and the young people get on my nerves. Getting cranky kind of comes with the territory. But I’m not going to let that happen. I want to focus on others. Keep loving them. Being genuinely interested in them. I want to live and love in such a way that when I am gone, they miss me, not feel relieved. Choose selflessness instead of selfishness.
- He had a successor in place. In verse 9, “Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him.” Here is idea number three, pour your life into someone else right up to the very end. We talked about that yesterday, but leaving a legacy means I invest in the generations that will follow me. There is stuff you know, experience you have, that needs to be shoved into the beady little brain of some young whipper snapper. We can’t gripe or grumble that into them. It takes time, and love, and patience.
- That leads to the last idea. Finally, in verse 10, he left a testimony, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew, face to face.” How did the people know that? Most of them were little kids when Moses went up on the mountain and came back with a glowing face. Moses told them. He testified to the powerful presence of God. Do that. Talk openly and often to those around you about what God has done, is doing, and will do in your life. Share your testimony. Make the “God story” a part of your every day vocabulary. When you are gone, your testimony will remain.
If we have learned anything from the history lessons of Deuteronomy, it is that God uses our stories, noble, ugly, funny, fearful, fantastic, to show Himself to people around us. Let Him use your story. Tell it, a lot. Talk about it when you are walking along the road or sitting at the table. See what God does with that. Here’s an idea? Gather your family or your friends around at the beginning of the year and begin a tradition of praying and praising and telling about the wonderful things He has done. It’s a blast.
Thanks for being in this journey with me. All your comments are always kind and appreciated. I’m going to take a break. Ash Wednesday is February 14. Maybe we will start something different then. Doris and I are talking about a weekly devotional video for the 40 Days before Easter. We will see. Love you all and pray His best blessing on you.