Well Moses, when will we get to the promised land? I am sure many of you, like me, are feeling like the Israelites must have felt when wondering around in the wilderness, trying to figure out new ways of doing things. Feeling at loose ends. Stressed about both the now and the future. Missing the social contact with friends and family. Life has already changed. Who knew that Zoom would become a thing we do, not just something kids say as they move their trucks and planes? Who knew that we would be entering the store with a mask on, and no one would react? Who knew … you can add your own unexpected change to the list.
I do not think, like the Israelites, we will be at this for 40 years, but some days it sure feels like it. It has been at least 40 days. I am certainly not Moses. I am not going to claim that God has spoken directly to me on this issue. I do not have the cool staff that Moses had for parting rivers and getting water from rocks. I do not have new instructions for living chiseled in stone tablets. But I have three things to recommend — patience, persistence and prayer.
Well Moses, when will we get to the promised land? Patience.
People are doing the best they can. Trying to make the best decision they can. Maybe they are not coming to the same thoughtful, well-reasoned conclusion and behavior you have, or that you might expect. Be patient with them. Be patient with family. Be patient with yourself. Remember that Second Commandment. As Jesus said the one like the first. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
Well Moses, when will we get to the promised land? Persistence.
Yes, you can learn how to Zoom, Facetime or text. Much like your new car, you do not need to know all the bells and whistles, you just need to get from A to B. But you do need to persist (and maybe be willing to ask for help). You can do it! This is not a time where good things come to those who wait. This is a time when good things can be done by those who persist in good behavior and kind acts.
Well Moses, when will we get to the promised land? Prayer.
The Bible gives us many examples of different types of prayer appropriate for this time. Prayer of lament; prayer of supplication; prayer of praise; prayer of thanksgiving. We also have many options for implementing our prayer. Song is a form of prayer. Contact with others can be a form of prayer, even if done by text or email. And of course, you can go directly to God. God does not require social distancing.
As we contemplate our release from captivity, the transitions we will experience, and whatever will be the new normal; as we contemplate our path to and through this; as we contemplate the parts we can play in this process; remember Moses’ words to his people, as they were to enter a promised land he would not see, “But take care and watch yourself closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; Make them known to your children and your children’s children”(Deut 4: 9). Please, prayerfully persist with patience.
Robert J. Gustafson, Ph.D., P.E, is pastor of West Berlin Presbyterian Church, 2911 Berlin Station Road.