One recent Sunday, our pastor preached from Deuteronomy 34. Preparing us for impending pastoral change, he invited us to embrace the journey to the Promised Land knowing that God's unwavering faithfulness will carry us through the pervasive uncertainty of leadership transition. As he read the passage, my heart became snagged on two verses. “Then Moses, the LORD’s servant, died - right there in the land of Moab, according to the LORD’s command. The Lord buried him in a valley in Moabite country across from Beth-peor. Even now, no one knows where Moses’ grave is” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6 CEB). Wait, what?
Though the pastor continued, I couldn't free myself from that phrase, "Even now, no one knows where Moses' grave is." Sitting motionless in the pew, my thoughts hovered then darted from place to place like a hummingbird in a patch of blossoming tiger lilies. Let me get this straight, God. This 120-year-old man dies, (oh, by the way, he was full of vigor and had notably good eyesight), and You just step in and say, "I'll take care of this, thank you very much"? Here is Israel, immersed in a culture that honored the dead, and no one knew where he was buried? Seriously? I mean, it was Moses, for crying out loud!
Pausing from my sarcastic diatribe, I began to reflect on Israel's journey under his leadership... the good, the bad, and the ugly. What an extraordinary story! Surely when Moses passed, these altar-building, prone-to-idol-worship people would have wanted to know where he was buried. And if not privy to the location, they would have understandably delayed their journey to search for it, right? And, if they had discovered it, certainly no one could have blamed them for building an appropriate shrine at Moses' burial site. And, if you build it, you would have to remain to maintain it. And, and, and... And that's when it hit me. What if God, mercifully and intentionally, was intervening in Israel's journey by burying Moses Himself? What if God was actually helping them move forward into their inheritance?
As my mind settled with this thought, I sensed the light of God's countenance gently reveal an area in my own past where I, too, had been longing for the freedom of closure. Tenderly directing my eyes towards His, He softly spoke, "Child, you have been wearying yourself, wandering in the wilderness, searching for a headstone that marks the end of that season in your life." Feeling very exposed, and yet very loved, tears began to well in my eyes. "My dear son," He continued, "Instead of pining for closure, yearn for intimacy with Me. I am your closure.”
As I sat in that pew, many miles into the wilderness of my emotions, my heart began to melt in repentance. With Fatherly compassion, He showed me that I was postponing peace by relentlessly seeking the proverbial Moses' grave of closure on that particular season in my life. And the longer I searched, the longer I "forfeited the grace that could have been mine." (Jonah 2:8). Tears spilled over to my cheeks, as a simple prayer arose, "Jesus, I want You more than I want closure for that season." Peace began to cascade into my wilderness as Jesus, broadly grinning, extended His hand of grace and simply said, "Come with Me."
Here is what I am learning on the journey. While I like the security of resolved issues and the tidiness of answered questions, I am discovering a deeper contentment in the fullness of God's presence. I am experiencing the closure of no closure. Not in the pouty-faced resignation of a little boy who didn't get what he wanted, but instead, in the joyful submission of a much-loved son who is resting in the kind intention of his Father’s will. What songwriters Jay Rouse and Randy Vader said is true. “Beyond my understanding, beyond the scope of what I see, lies the promise for the claiming of God’s peace that's meant for me.”
Precious one, are you lost in the wilderness searching for closure? There is good news! God can passionately, perfectly, and powerfully provide all of the emotional, the physical, and the spiritual resolution we need.
I also believe, however, that God sometimes allows us to journey through the vagueness of "Even now, no one knows where Moses' grave is" experiences, inviting us to find our closure in the security of intimacy of relationship with Him. If that is the case for you right now, know this, beloved. Perfect peace can displace nagging questions. Divine love can quiet a restless heart. Beyond your understanding, beyond the scope of what you see, and even beyond the acquisition of detailed answers to everything that transpired, lies the promise of God's peace that's meant for you. You don’t have to forfeit the sweet, consoling, and empowering intimacy with God in search of Moses’s tombstone anymore. Grasp the hand of grace extended to you this day, and step forward, upheld in the Father's unwavering love. ""For I know the plans I have for you," says the Eternal, "plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and a hope - never forget that"" (Jeremiah 29:11 VOICE).
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