We are prone to be pretty demanding of God. I'm like many people, when I have decided what I want or perceived what I need, I want it sooner, rather than later. Today would be okay, thank you!
Of the many things I lack, three are stark: 1. Judgment. 2. Timing. 3. Patience.
I am not always afforded a survey of the big picture. Life comes to me in pieces rather than the whole lump. And so I try to assemble my life's puzzle without ever looking at the finished picture on the puzzle box.
That's where trust comes in. Though I might attempt to imagine how my finished project ought to look, God, no doubt, has a much better end for me in mind. To bring me to that end, I will experience a myriad of agenda adjustments.
Though this brings me a tremendous amount of frustration, especially when my truster is not functioning properly, God's eyes are not on my comfort, but on the completed me.
Look, what's a roller coaster with out peaks and valleys and loop-de-loops? Nothing more than a kiddie ride.
And what is a good novel or a movie without hopes and dreams and plans, then hopes dashed, dreams crushed and plans averted, then "they lived happily ever after?"
And what is life without crashing and crushing and dashing, followed by unspeakable glory?
So, look what happens to the great Moses. He is called to lead a few million whining, petulant adolescents out of Egypt and toward the land flowing with milk and honey.
Along the way there are dozens of setbacks. The desert never seems to cooperate with an easy passage to the Promised land. Then there are the uncooperative land owners, the murmurings of the mixed multitude, the rebellion of siblings and others, the idolatry of the calf-worshipers, and oh, the list goes on.
"Why can't we just take Highway 40 north out of Cairo straight to Jericho with the wind at our backs and set up shop in Canaan next week?"
That's how a 21st century American would expect things to transpire. Expect? No, demand!
I believe the children of Israel had similar expectations. They thought it would be easy. No doubt, Moses hadn't expected a hundred and fifty mile journey to take a third of his life.
And then we read Deuteronomy 4:22 "But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land."
What a punch to the gut!
You mean he had to face down the most powerful despot on earth, 10 times, pick up a cobra by the tail, cross through the ocean, dragging millions with him - plus cattle, water everybody from a rock, feed them all with angel food flakes, cure them from serpent bites, act as their judge and/or psychologist from sunup til past dark everyday, train them in warfare, plead with God not to fry the entire lot to a crisp, lead them to the very brink of the Promised Land... finally, he gets to view the panorama of the land from Mt. Pisgah, and then this!!! "Moses, thanks for all your hard work, but you ain't going in because you threw that one hissy fit."
It just seems all so...unfair.
But not every piece of the puzzle is in place yet. Remember, people like me and Moses have difficulty with judgment, timing and patience. But God sees the whole roller coaster. He authors, produces and directs the entire flick.
Let's fast forward 1500 years to another mountain, this one inside the Promised Land that is now Israel. This is one of the peaks Moses had seen on the distant horizon as he surveyed the land from Pisgah. He had longed to step foot on this mountain. In his mind, he should have victoriously led Israel to the foot of a mount like this and declared victorious completion of a finished task. Here, the puzzle would be complete. But God had a dramatic twist to the plot that culminated in unimaginable glory, so fantastic that the disciples of Jesus fell to their faces, unable to even fathom the glory.
We read about the completion of the puzzle, the end of the movie, the pulling in of the roller coaster to the station, and the perfection of God's judgment, timing and patience in Matthew 17.
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Well, look who finally made it I to the Promised land! And with what glory?
1. Moses is not 120 years old, but in a glorified, youthful body.
2. His seemingly dashed hopes and dreams and agendas are now met in a way that 1000 times exceed any expectations he could have ever had.
3. He's not savoring the fulfilled promise with whiny ingrates, but beside Elijah, venerated by apostles and in the very physical presence of the transfigured Messiah.
How's that for an unexpected ending that leaves you going home more than satisfied?
Can I clue you in on something pretty special? Often, we are exasperated that our expectations are frustrated. Our gratification is simply being delayed for a much better ending that we never could have expected.
Following is a promise in which God assures us He isn't through yet.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Trust, my friend. Have faith in He who has already written your life's story, designed your roller coaster and prepared your Promised Land.