‘Wide Open Spaces’
It is with a bittersweet spirit that I write this Lesson – our final in the ‘I AM: So You Don’t Have to Be’ blog study. I hope you’ll be patient as I share a bit about what this process has meant to me.
I remember clearly coming home last March from our church women’s ministry retreat where I first presented this material and feeling God wasn’t finished with the message yet – not so much because He told me you needed to hear it, but because it required more time in my own heart to be a Word that would abide rather than be stored away on a shelf as a quaint memory of a great weekend with God and my girlfriends. He impressed upon me to spend more time in the Exodus account by writing the lessons out for this blog.
I had no idea how the idea of a blog study would be received by you, but I continued as a matter of obedience. When I shared my heart with my dear friend Iris, she was so incredibly supportive and even put legs to her encouragement by volunteering to make a study button. Thank you, Iris. You’ll never know what fire you’ve stoked in me!
One thing you can always know about anything I presume to teach is that God has already made my refining crucible melting hot before He ever lights a fire under yours. This study has been intensely personal. 1 Peter 5:10 is a favorite verse of mine. It says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” This establishment Peter is referring to comes from a couple of Greek words that mean, “to set fast, to turn resolutely in a certain direction, or to confirm” and also, “to lay a basis for, erect, something put down as a substruction of a building”.
Girls, there are pillars our God is setting under our faith so that it will be one that does not shrink back nor is shaken. The idea that God is ENOUGH, that He is sufficient in every way so I don’t have to be is absolutely foundational for me in a way I didn’t comprehend before He led me down a very difficult road. Before this past year, I subconsciously believed I set my own pillars, that I had to be strong and in control so the house wouldn’t come tumbling down. So when the house did crumble in a most unexpected way I was left amidst the rubble holding on the only thing which still stood – the pillar of salvation. What is a girl to do when the walls fall in? The worst thing is to try to rebuild that thing on the same sand as before. We have to look to the Higher Rock and allow Him to be the substruction for every single thought, decision, action, word, and deed. It is only when our feet are set on this firm place that He can confirm the direction He has for our lives. This is the message of abundant living – being set on a right course in which we’ve traded all our dreams for God’s.
I am also very sentimental over today’s Lesson material as we will be focusing on Moses as he overlooked the Promised Land atop Mount Nebo. I think each of us have one person in Scripture with whom we feel a deep kinship. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been the girl at the bush stammering, “But, God! I can’t, God. I’m not good enough, God. Pick someone else, God.” This one thing I know through studying the relationship between God and His servant, Moses: It is SO not about me. Who am I to say my God is not enough to accomplish anything He wills through me? Satan will seek to turn our acceptance of a task into an issue of pride. If we say ‘yes’, will others think I think I’m good enough? And in all our looking at one another we have taken our eyes off the One whose glory will not be shared.
By the end of his long life, Moses had his eye on one person – the I AM, Yahweh, his Jehovah. Above all the names Moses could use to speak to God, perhaps the most precious to him was Friend. How else could he climb Mt. Nebo that final day of his life, knowing he would never return? I’ve read this last Chapter of Deuteronomy so many times always wondering what that scene must have been like. So, imagine my delight when I found the account of the day according to Jewish Tradition as recorded by Jocephus, a Jewish historian. Now remember, this is Jewish Tradition, not Scripture but captivating nonetheless. Just don’t get hung up on any extra-Biblical details.
With that said, get yourself a hanky and read Jocephus, Antiquities of the Jews 8:48-49 (*Note – scroll down to Chapter 8, verse 48-49. There was no link for these specific verses. I didn’t build them into the post for sake of space.)
Being in ministry, Luke and I have had to say goodbye way more times than I like to count. The first time was when we left for college from the church we were both saved in the year before. Most of the years prior to my salvation, I hadn’t cried many tears. I was cold, strong, and self-controlled. The major work God did in my life in that first year after I was born again was simply to turn my black heart into a feeling, beating thing again. During our last Sunday at church, I cried every tear that had been penned up for the last ten. I didn’t think I would ever be the same again having to leave those people I had learned to love so much behind. BUT – a wonderful thing I’ve learned is this: Goodbyes are always followed by hellos.
I can only imagine the things in your own dear lives you’ve had to say goodbye to: loved ones, church fellowships, jobs, homes, dreams and expectations or perhaps many combinations of these. Based on what I know about God, I can safely say if He has allowed a goodbye in your life, He has replaced it with a hello you never asked for or imagined. What we are seeking in this last section of study is God as our Portion and the satisfaction for our souls.
There is no more beautiful picture of this concept than that of God and Moses alone on that mountain. Moses who had been a Prince of Egypt, a judge and prophet to millions and here he stood overlooking the Possession he’d sought for 40 years knowing he couldn’t enter. A lesser man would have been bitter and disappointed but Moses had come to know God Himself as his inheritance and salvation.
Though he would never step foot into what he believed to be God’s promise to him as well as the children of Israel, his joy was found in knowing his Canaan was about to be ultimately fulfilled. Just like Hebrews 11 tells us, we may not ever see the thing we believe God has promised us on this earth but our hope is in the ultimate rest of our Savior Jesus Christ. I believe I can also scripturally show you Moses looked forward to the rest of Jesus Christ as well. You are going to love this.
I want you to remember with me Moses’ Song in Exodus 15, particularly verse 2 which reads, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him, My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”
Let’s look at the word ‘salvation’. The Hebrew for this word is ‘Yeshuwah’. For those of you who may not recognize this word, it is the Hebrew for Jesus! I have chill bumps each time I read its meaning, “something saved, i.e. a deliverance“. Okay, hold on because it gets better. The root word of ‘Yeshuwah’ is ‘Yasha’ and means “to be open, wide, or free. i.e. to be safe, to bring salvation, get victory.” The opposite of this word is ‘to be bound’. So what was Moses saying in his prophetic song? God has become my Jesus. He is my deliverance, my safety, my wide open spaces, my unbinding, my Promised Land.
It only makes sense that Moses would have been saddened by being told he could not enter Canaan, however, he didn’t need the ‘here’ because he looked ahead to his reward and persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27-28) Girls, sometimes God says ‘no’. It may be because of our own sin or more often simply because God is keeping us safe from circumstances we can’t possibly know. I love The Message version of 1 Peter 5:7, “Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.” He is careful with you. Oh I could just collapse in a heap in my Father’s arms knowing I am safe in His heart. He is careful with me because I am precious to Him. He doesn’t want anything to come my way that He hasn’t carefully planned. If I do have to experience the fire, He wants to go in first instead of having me run off on my own. Our Father is very careful. Very watchful. Very much in love.
The View From the Top
I live close to Chattanooga, Tennessee and one of our famous tourist attractions is Rock City. The site is perched on the side of Lookout Mountain and, if you believe all the marketing hype, you can look off and “See Seven States!” Along the landing, there are several stands with the metal binoculars that allow you to see for miles.
I always think of Rock City when I read how God called Moses to the top of Nebo and began showing him the Promised Land broken down into each tribes’ inheritance. As I prayed over this scene while I was walking just this week, the song ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ came on my iPod (The Third Day version of course). I cried like a baby as I pictured Moses on that mountain looking over the Promise. In my own imagination, I believe Moses’ death came just as in the song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace.” As the earthly Canaan dimmed, the unfading one appeared. Oh, that we could all go out in such a whisper.
There is so much more that could have been said and so many better ways to have said it but I pray from the depths of my heart that God impressed at least one truth from this study that will indwell your spirit, abide richly, and change the way you move through this earth. I hope you know you are beautiful in God’s eyes. That you are enough because He is enough. That you have enough because He is your satisfaction. He is all that and more – so you don’t have to be.
Instead of our list of Burning Questions, I would like to leave you today with just one:
What is one thing God has taught you through this study?
Blessings on you!