The Destination or The Journey

 

By Elaine May, CRCNA Women’s Leadership Developer

Deuteronomy 34: 1-12

“Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land… Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.  He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.

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.”

 

Do you have DAS?  DAS is the acronym for Destination Anxiety Syndrome. It’s not a syndrome recognized by the American Psychological Association, but many of you might resonate with the definition. The “syndrome” surfaces every time one goes on a road trip. Destination Anxiety Syndrome dictates the most efficient and direct route with the fewest stops. Its symptoms are a hypersensitive awareness of the number of ounces of liquid being consumed by yourself or your passengers prior to getting in the car, packing snacks (not beverages) to avoid unpredictable drive thru lanes, and mapping rest areas prior to departure because it’s inevitable that someone must use the toilet. DAS is probably a prerequisite for participating in the American reality TV program The Amazing Race. Oftentimes, we can fall prey to it even outside the context of road trips and let it influence how we pursue ministry and seek the Lord during the course of our lives. 

The past two years have been challenging in so many ways, for those fixated on destinations as well as for those who typically enjoy the journey. The journey has been unpredictable with unforeseen detours, and the destination has kept moving, remaining still uncertain. Any estimated time of arrival has been completely abandoned.

And yet, the pandemic has not deterred nor delayed God’s sovereign work toward his intended destination. God continues to call, form, and send his people on ministry assignments to bless a world he loves deeply. We see this illustrated throughout scripture in the lives of individuals called to engage God’s mission and influence the community to do the same. God called Moses and sent him on a mission that had both a destination and a journey. God said to him, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10) Moses had a very clear purpose: Get in, get out, pit stop at the Red Sea, next stop the Promised Land.

Both the destination and the journey were significant for Moses. The pin on the map was the goal, but the journey would develop Moses as a leader the people came to love.

 Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness toward the Promised Land for 40 years, but had the Lord taken him on the most direct route, the journey would have taken only two weeks. This unexpected, seemingly inefficient ministry assignment provided the context, crises, and challenges for the formation of Moses’ character.  God sent him to lead his people out of captivity, but he was also calling him to move beyond undisciplined, angry outbursts exhibited in his murder of the Egyptian and in the striking of the rock at Meribah to a more effective and helpful leadership posture. Throughout the journey, while intent on the destination, Moses regularly and routinely sought God for direction, rather than trying to control the journey’s efficiency. The intimacy Moses developed with God while speaking to him face to face, changed him, giving him the spiritual authority he needed to fulfill his mission and deliver the people of God into the Promised Land. This type of character formation would not have developed in two weeks. 

At the end of his life, God announces to Moses that he would never reach the destination. Moses didn’t argue nor is there a record of him responding in anger. Moses trusted God and was content to end his days alone in God’s presence.

Before you launch into the new year with a destination in mind, prayerfully reflect on how God used the events, people, and circumstances of 2021 to change you. How are you different? What did God teach you? Do you trust him to lead this year’s journey? Are you beginning this year content with God’s presence? God wants to talk with you, face to face, about any hesitation you’re experiencing.