I want to begin with a few simple observations of our first week of travels:
- Coca Cola is a common language worldwide.
- Women wait in long lines at public restrooms in every country, not just the United States.
- Jordan’s national bird should be the fly
There is a phrase that goes something like this: “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
During Moses’ day, I’m not sure they played horseshoes and I doubt they were lobbing hand grenades, but I wonder if he would have wryly used this phrase as he stood atop Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo was the place God led Moses in order to show him the Promised Land that he would not be allowed to enter. Nebo was close but not the Promised Land.
I stood on Mount Nebo this morning, looking out past the Jordan River, Jericho, and beyond. Moses’ disobedience cost him life in Canaan. I’ve often read and thought of this event as being cruel – why would God tease Moses by showing him a rich, luscious land that he would never experience???
The longer I stood there overlooking what Moses’ worked so hard for yet never tasted, the sadder I became. It was another one of those times when I couldn’t quite understand why God didn’t grade “on a curve,” if you know what I mean. Moses did so very many incredible things – why not go ahead and stamp Moses’ ticket to cross over?
The more I pondered Moses’ predicament, the more I saw parallels to mine. Ya see, I get these little tastes of heaven on earth every now and then – it’s like God is teasing me, reminding me that there is a Promised Land. Like the apostle Paul, I have an inward groaning here on earth – a deep, aching longing for something that this life will never be able to satisfy. This unanswered, unfulfilled yearning is a reminder that I was not created for this world.
Then it hit me: This entire life on earth is Mount Nebo. We are graced with what we even call “mountain top highs.” From here on earth we see just a smidgen of the Life God created us for. And, also like Moses, we will not experience the eternal Promised Land until we have experienced death. Actually two deaths: beginning with a willing death to self, and culminating in a physical death that passes my alive-as-never-before soul on to heaven.
That dark, desperate look on the faces of the Jordanians that I commented on a night or so ago makes a bit more sense now: Nebo is all they may ever know. Apart from opening their hearts up to Jesus, Nebo is as good as it gets.
I think Moses ached as he stood on Mount Nebo, but I believe that he himself knew that there was an even more beautiful Promised Rest (see Hebrews 3 and 4).
What does that Promised Rest look like? Perhaps it will be a place where women no longer have long lines to the bathroom. Maybe I can switch from Diet to regular Coca-Cola with no concern for the increased calories. I’m pretty sure there will be no flies. The only way I’ll ever fully know is to do my part: die that first death, the death to self.