Sunday – May 17, 2015: Going the Distance

Deuteronomy 34:1-7

34 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. 4 The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” 5 Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. 6 He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.

Recently, I saw a news story about a soldier who collapsed just as she was coming to the finish of a long hike. Although she was strong and well trained, she was also wearing a heavy pack, and a helmet which weighed her down; however, she kept herself moving forward as long as she could! It must have been very frustrating for her to be within sight of her goal, but not to be able to reach it on her own! Perhaps this soldier could have identified with what Moses felt, to have ended his journey so close to the Promised Land, but to not be able to complete the trip!

Sometimes, even though we have done all the right things, sacrificed and struggled, we can still find ourselves looking failure in the eye! Maybe we experienced this when trying to save a job, a loved one, or a relationship, only to see these things slip away from us. Perhaps, like Moses, we did all we could to lead our children safely through the wilderness of this world, only to see them stray off track and become lost.

We can be hard on ourselves when we fail in spite of our best efforts, taking all the blame for not being ‘good enough’! We can also find ourselves upset or angry with God, wondering why God was not able to help us or our loved ones at the time of our greatest need. However, being hard on ourselves, or upset with God in the face of our failures is not really fair.

Usually most of our failures are out of our control, as other people and other factors can hinder our chances for success: for Moses it was age, which finally caught up with him, just as his journey was ending. For that soldier it was her muscles which could not go any further, just as she was nearing the end of her challenge. For us, our strength and even our faith could falter after a long struggle to keep our children on track appears to be fruitless. For our children, perhaps it was a loss of resolve in the face of peer pressure, and the challenges of growing-up, which led them down dark and dangerous roads that took them further into the wilderness.

I do not believe failure is God’s fault either, as I have faith that it is never God’s Will that we know pain or suffering.

Failure is simply a part of life, and though it sucks, it can be an important teacher, instructing us on what works and what does not, showing us how not to fail next time. To paraphrase: it is not our falling that matters, but how we rise up again!

No matter what caused us to fail, there is good news for us: just as the Lord was with Moses at the end of his journey, and the soldier’s friends came and helped her across the finish line, we too are not alone, not even when we fail, for we are never alone as we face the challenges of our lives. We have the gift of God’s love that fills our lives, and when that love is shared we have the support of others that can give us the strength to not only survive our failures, but to also still thrive in spite of them!

We are not called to be perfect parents or perfect people, and that is why we have been given the gift of forgiveness! It is this forgiveness that can save us and our children from those times when we fail, or go off track in life. The forgiveness and love we share together can bring us all through the storms of failure, and help us to rise up again, no matter what price we have had to pay…for these gifts give us hope, for even if we do not make it to the finish line, if we act together in faith, we can see the promised land, because it is still there, and the journey is never wasted…and with the help of God and each other, we will all find our way into the Kingdom of God!

Let us Pray:

Dear God, thank you for filling us with your love and hope, and for being able to share these gifts with our children and others! Let us remember that we are never alone as we face the challenges of life…even when they include failing no matter what we do to succeed. Help us to learn not only how to rise from our failures but to also learn how to live with them. Grant us the faith to trust your presence with us, and to know that no journey is wasted and no failure is ever complete, as each step brings us closer to the Promised Land.

Amen

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