The story of Moses is a poignant one. After all the years of hardship and
leadership, he finally brings God’s people to the borders of the Promised
Land, but he himself is not permitted to enter. This heartbreaking reality
seems rather unfair to the great man. The writer of this part of the
Scriptures describes this as a judgement of God, but perhaps there was
something else going on as well.
The entry to the Promised Land marked a new phase in Israel’s life. It was a
new generation entering the land (the one that left Egypt had died in the
wilderness). These two factors meant that new leadership would be
necessary, and for this leadership to succeed, the old leadership (Moses)
would need to step aside. Already there had been signs that Moses’
patience was wearing thin (when he struck the rock in frustration with the
people to get water, instead of speaking to it as God had instructed). So,
perhaps God was simply telling Moses that it was time to step down. Of
course, Moses would have found this hard—it would have felt like a
punishment—but for Joshua and the new generation to have the best
chance at success in their new home, Moses had to move aside.
This week the question of authority, and what it looks like in Jesus, may
be raised. This call for Moses to relinquish his authority is typical of the way
power is handled in God’s Reign.
Today’s reading calls for a different kind of response – a practice that is
hard for most of us, but also crucial to learn. This practice is letting go.
Whenever you feel the need to impose your “authority”, your will or your
agenda on others, it is a good idea to step back, and then let go, trusting
God for the results. Try this today.
Teach me, O God, to let go and to step aside when needed, to serve when
needed and to trust you with the outcome.