Grace is that undeserved favor we receive from God. It’s all sufficient, and it’s all a gift. Moses wanted the people to understand that God wasn’t doing all of this for them because they were righteous. We read over and over again the Bible accounts that show the stubbornness and disobedience of God’s chosen people. He didn’t choose them because they were the best students in the class.
It would be easy to become over-confident and think we are better than we are, too. When we have success in our life, it would be all too easy to take the credit. We do need to realize who is in charge, who has made a way for us, who has gifted us with the skills and abilities we use to reach our level of success.
When you watch a television show, they will often start the new episode with a look back at what has come before. It’s good to jog our memories a little bit. This is what is happening in the first couple chapters of Deuteronomy. Moses was setting the scene by recalling where their journey in the wilderness had taken them thus far. In Chapter 1, Moses points out the failures and frustrations they have encountered along the way. What stood out to you in our reading today?
We might question how an eleven-day trip took 40 years. We may also notice how Moses made a lot of references to what the Lord has said or commanded. Of course, there are lots of examples of how the people have done their own thing and not followed God. Clearly, Moses has been chosen by God to lead the people during this time in history, and there is a lot of we can glean from the mistakes made, the divine intervention provided, and the faithfulness of leadership.
What a roller coaster of emotions. As we spend quiet time together today it’s time to really focus in on Jesus’ final hours with his friends, those closest to him. Jesus knew all along this day was coming, yet now that it is here there was so much to say. His disciples still didn’t seem to understand fully the importance of what was about to unfold. We can see clearly, yet do we still grasp what is happening? We’ve read the words, but what is happening in our hearts?
Each of these passages reveals something we can hold on to as we journey through our own dark night. There are beautiful promises. How often have we questioned something happening our lives, in our world? Jesus’ words in John, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” Like Thomas, we’re still not sure, we want more assurance, more information. Jesus calms our fears when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus is our answer. When the tempests of life try to overwhelm us, we need only rest in these words. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who does know. Now we can find peace in the Father.
We recently read about being careful not to boast. Here Paul says, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” When we boast of our weaknesses it is often to show our victories in God. Some people find joy in wallowing in their misfortune. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Paul wasn’t either. His accounts of his trials were not to gain sympathy or to complain. They were to show the power of God to sustain him.
As I write this, the whole planet is under watch or attack of a pandemic virus. You can’t have a conversation, turn on the television, peruse social media, or even read your email without mention of this “trial” of life. It is affecting everyone differently. For those close to it, with loved ones affected, I have no words. Families are being torn apart and unable to comfort each other. People are dying alone because there is too much fear of spreading this virus. For those of us staying indoors, limiting our contact with other humans, there is less concern. Yet, we are all in a place of weakness. We all need Jesus’ power to sustain us.
Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? I know I’m not the only one because the disciples did it in today’s reading. I have every good intention of praying through the praises, concerns, joys, requests, and pleas for forgiveness. I’m sure the disciples did, too.
Jesus told the disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” They just didn’t understand. It’s hard to put ourselves in their shoes, much less understand the distress that had overtaken Jesus. What we do see is that Jesus’ response to his anguish was to pray. We can probably think of a time when we were faced with doing something we dreaded. Like in speech class, getting up in front of the class knowing your knees were going to knock and that words would be stumbled over. But Jesus’ dread was so much more than this. So much more.