Friday, January 11, 2008

Moses' Epitaph, Our Challenge

Famous Last Words, Episode 5, a series by Yehudi01 and myself.
You can see his corresponding article here: Moses and King Messiah ....

Imagine the following written on your tombstone, or said about you in a eulogy at your funeral:

"And it was through Moses that the LORD demonstrated His might power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel."
Not bad, huh? This is, in a sense, the sum total of Moses' life, the concluding remark about his "accomplishments" as a man. His epitaph.
And if this was all you knew about his life, just this one sentence, I wonder what kind of man, what kind of life you'd imagine.

I would probably picture an extremely serious and well-dressed man, broadchested, without scar or blemish, perfectly self-controlled. With eyes that are never quite focussed on an earthly reality. He would enjoy the respect of millions, be very wealthy and carry no regrets. Nothing would faze him.

This was far from the actual truth about Moses, if the last 4 books of the Torah have been any indication. His was an extremely hard life, at least for the last 80 years of it. He carried a burden of responsibility that I really don't envy. He experienced a huge measure of rejection and disrespect from 2 of the ethnic groups he identified with (Egypt and Israel). Leadership more often meant doing things that large groups of people weren't happy with than it making people rejoice. Two thirds of his life, he lived in barren places, and as an outcast for a third of it.
To top it off, the Moses we know from Exodus 3 onwards lacked confidence, had temper tantrums and - though he was sharp and strong at 120 - he really just plain suffered greatly in his life.

Once again as I contemplate this I'm reminded of how authentic and hold-no-punches the biblical record is. No Hollywood scriptwriter or marketing agent got their hands on this story. Moses suffered as much as he succeeded, and was a mix of good and bad humanity.

But it was through this both noble and flawed human being that God Almighty did some pretty almighty stuff.

Now it's certainly not fresh thinking for me to say "God usually chooses flawed human beings to be His conduits". We're used to that thought. We're used to being conduits of His mercy, His compassion, even His truth, His gospel perhaps.

But could we write "it is through Pete Aldin that God did mighty acts" or "it was through Daniel Abrahamson that Hashem demonstrated His terrifying power" or "it was through [insert your name] that the Lord did miracles" ... and IN THE SIGHT OF OTHERS?

I'm not writing this to condemn. I'm really not saying that just because we don't send plagues of locusts against the local nazi gang leader's house that we're not doing enough! I'm not suggesting that just because the neighbors haven't seen you split the water in the local swimming pool, you're a spiritual flop.

I'm just wondering how much of a correlation there is between the suffering & sacrifice of a life however flawed which is truly devoted to God (ie., holiness) and the potential for God to work POWERFULLY through that life ... and in a way that will enact His will and bring Him glory...

The last thought I bring from this verse is this (and it's not my own, I read this somewhere and loved it): despite the fact that we have had 4 books which place a major emphasis on laws and commands, God's will is not just about words, but about acts. Once again, it's not just what I know or what I say or even what I verbally agree to believing. It's about what I do and how that doing lines up with His will.

What will you do with these thoughts today? Where's the realm in which truly devoting yourself to holy action on God's behalf is being asked of you? For me, I decided (and this may be tangential) that as a Dad, I will fully accept that great parenting means a difficult life for a couple of decades. Difficulty and sacrifice that will (I prayerfully ask, Lord) result in God raising empathetic, adventurous, honorable, confident, spiritual men of my sons.

The decision that this brought me to in prayer was that this weekend, I will focus on NOT DISCIPLINING MY BOYS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER TO ME, but training them lovingly and only enforcing limits and consequences for their best interests, not mine. [By the way, hold me accountable to that please. So far, a few hours into it, so good.]

May you be blessed in all that you do, knowing Him more and truly being a conduit for His grace, power, truth and love.


Yehudi01 said...

Fantastic interpretation of the scriptural account, Pete! I love how you can take a pasuk and literral bring it to life in front of me. The challenge for me is always making sure that my actions line up with the lip-service I pay to God everyday.

"Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few." Kohelet 5:1

Brilliant post, Pete!

Pete Aldin said...

Thanks, mate, your quote raises a good point. Whenever I bring a matter before God, I often forget that I'm on holy ground and need to (for instance) be honest and (for instance) be truly committed to following through on it.

Jeremiah said...

That last bit about discipling kids is good advice. As one who has a fourteen-month-old, that's something I can certainly due to walk away with. Yeah.

Pete Aldin said...

Doesn't fatherhood open our understanding of God's fathering of us, Jeremiah? I've found parenting the most wonderful frustration in my life: to watch two humans develop, to love and influence without controling, to manage my own character because of its impact on them ...

You might actaully like my dad blog, then. Try , ; or

Do you have a boy or a girl?