So, full disclosure, I’m not a super confident person. I have a tendency to seek approval for things I do, and if I don’t get instant gratification to make me feel like I’ve done a good job, I can get very caught in my own head, overanalyzing every aspect of what I did. I still know better, but the knowledge doesn’t automatically transfer to my lived experience. As a teacher, I know that it’s unrealistic to expect my students to grasp everything perfectly, and especially teaching religion to junior high students, my real goal is simply to plant the seeds that will, someday, bear fruit in their lives keeping them near Christ, or perhaps drawing them back if they leave the Church.
I know this, but I still struggle with the idea that I don’t get to see that fruit being borne. Now, I shouldn’t make it sound like it never happens. When I worked in youth ministry, and today in the classroom, the Lord in His loving generosity does allow me to see glimpses of it. The light bulb, a-ha, moments that I get to witness are a source of incredible comfort to my occasionally neurotic self. Another great calm came to me just recently during Adoration. For any of you unfamiliar with Adoration, it is the practice of spending time in prayer in the presence of the Eucharist. I have a weekly holy hour at a local parish(one of the best decisions I’ve ever been roped into), and for the last few weeks I’ve been spending a great deal of that hour reading my way through the entirety of the Bible.
Now, I’m reading it Genesis to Revelations, which I don’t necessarily recommend if you aren’t already familiar with the Bible, as much of the first five books are a rather slow read. That said, even the parts that may seem the most dry will occasionally be exactly what God uses to slap some sense into us. For me, in my reading of Deuteronomy, I kept coming across the places where God tells Moses that it will be Joshua, not Moses, who leads the Israelites into the Promised Land. In fact, Moses will only be able to see the Promised Land from afar, he will never set foot there.
This is baffling to me. Moses, chosen by God Himself to lead His people from slavery to freedom. Who faithfully delivered God’s messages to Pharaoh. Who spoke with God atop Mount Sinai. Who led that “stiff necked people” for forty years through the desert and through multiple rebellions against both God and Moses. This man wasn’t able to experience that reward that the Lord had been promising all along. More shocking to me than anything else, though, is the way Moses reacts.
Throughout Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch, Moses has no particular trouble questioning God about things. God says He’ll wipe out the people and make of Moses a great nation? Come on, Lord, don’t let the nations say you set them free just to destroy them. God says he can’t travel with this people without them arousing his wrath? Come on, Lord. These are your people, they need you with them. Even when God first calls Moses to speak to Pharaoh, Moses negotiates with God to let Aaron be Moses’ spokesman. And yet, when the Lord tells Moses again and again that Moses will never enter the Land he has longed to see for his 120 years of life, Moses simply obeys, blesses Joshua, and gives a final blessing and warning to the people.
I don’t know that I’ve totally figured out how I’m going to incorporate this lesson into my life, I do know that it’s time for my prayer life to really take a page from Moses’ playbook and to seek the humility needed to joyfully and faithfully fulfill my role in God’s plan without seeking my own satisfaction.