“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” (34:10-12)
I’m going to piggy back off what Carly wrote yesterday, because in this season of my life, it’s a deeply important point to drive home.
“What makes someone a success?” This is a horrible question, which tumbles around the thought life of every western minister of the gospel. Pastors battle the temptation to rate their churches by size, membership or participation percentages. Missionaries feel pressure to report large conversion numbers. YWAM bases want full schools. This is fueled by many factors, a large one being “what will we tell our benefactors, supporters or board of directors?” How do we measure success and productivity in ministry?
By all these accounts, Moses was a pretty big failure. He didn’t even have enough personal self-control to not disqualify himself from entering the Promised Land. The numbers he reported were: how many were swallowed up by the ground, biten by poisonous snakes or killed in battle?
Normally, right about now, I could turn this around and say “what really made him a success?” But that word sucks. I’m going to abandon that word altogether.
Because who cares?! Moses knew the LORD face to face. “As one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:11) No matter what the fruit of his life on earth, he was the luckiest man to ever live. Don’t we see? The highest thing we could ever do, or experience in life, is intimate friendship with the Great I AM. Moses was the first to hear His Name. He was the messenger delivering all the LORD’s commands, chiefly to LOVE Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength.
I don’t know what expectations people had when I came to Greece to serve refugees. I don’t know what I expected of myself. I can’t speed up the asylum process, bring them home with me, or make them convert to Christianity. All those outcomes are way outside my control.
All I know, is that I’ve fallen in love with a group of people and it’s deeply mutual. I spend my days cooking, playing cards, learning Arabic, laughing with people, crying with people and, more recently, cat sitting.
Maybe all this, for a season, has merely starved off hopelessness and depression for a handful of people who didn’t deserve to see their homes bombed and families killed. I will never know. By God’s grace, none of it can be measured or boiled down to a power point presentation.
One thing I do know is that these people have shown me the face of God in a way I’ve never seen Him before. I worship Him now, like I never could have before.
My foreseeable future will be dedicated to loving these. I have no idea what will happen or what it will look like. It’s a crisis. It changes every hour, every day. Its exhausting trying to make sense of things enough to write an update that won’t change in 3 minutes. I do my best, because I absolutely couldn’t do any of it without my supporters, prayer warriors, family and friends.
What if I, like Moses, get tired, overly traumatized, frustrated and snap? I worry about this. This week, as I say goodbye to my team, I have been teary, wondering what everyone will think if I get overwhelmed, “strike the rock” and disqualify myself. I’m sure I’m not alone in this worry, and I’ve seen many pastors and missionaries “fall from grace” because of this very thing.
So today, as I read God’s sweet tribute to Moses, I’m actually crying quite a bit. Because no matter what I am a friend of God and I have seen His face.
I don’t know what this looks like for you, but please consider with me the grace of God, which is made perfect in our weakness.
Israel may be about to turn to foreign gods, but they’re out of Egypt. They will experience major ups and downs for the next 3000+ years. Their response isn’t Moses’ responsibility. By God’s push and power, Moses got them out of Egypt, delivered the Law, and got them to the edge of the Promised Land.
No one ever found his body, and the next thing you know, he’s hanging out with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses never stepped into the Promised Land, but he got to hang out with the Promised One. I think we’d all agree that’s better.