Then the LORD God said, “None of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness…shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors.” - Numbers 14:22-23
A friend who pastored an aging and extremely socially active congregation once told me that the number one pastoral issue his congregation faced was its people’s sense of failure as they neared their deaths. They’d been working so hard their whole lives, and still the revolution hadn’t come. The world wasn’t fixed yet.
I wonder if Moses and the Israelites felt the same way when they found out their generation wasn’t going to make it to the promised land. I hope not. I mean, they’d managed to survive and thrive under years of cruelty. They’d thrown off the yoke of their oppressors, escaped from their pursuers, stepped out in bravery and trust into a new future. They may not have made it to the promised land, but they sure did accomplish a lot. Plus God had promised them future generations to finish what they had started.
You too. Your sense that it’s all up to you? Your belief that you’re supposed to accomplish it all—end racism, fix the environment, redistribute the wealth, overcome all your issues, whatever—before you die? It’s not going to work out. You’ve already accomplished so much. You’ll accomplish so much more. But you will not finish the work; that is given to your children.
Let go of your determination to enter the promised land in your lifetime. Hope only to see it, and take a step toward it, and to believe that your descendants will arrive where you cannot.
Show me my place in your plan, and set me free from my own expectations. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.