Time to Step Down
Deut. 3:23 ¶ At that time, too, I entreated the LORD, saying:
Deut. 3:24 “O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your might; what god in heaven or on earth can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours!
Deut. 3:25 Let me cross over to see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon.”
Deut. 3:26 But the LORD was angry with me on your account and would not heed me. The LORD said to me, “Enough from you! Never speak to me of this matter again!
Deut. 3:27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.
Deut. 3:28 But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see.”
Deut. 3:29 So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.
Moses was coming to the end of his leadership over the Israelites. In this scene we discover a very personal struggle. Moses doesn't want to let go. He pleads with God that he is only now beginning to truly experience God's nature; his greatness and his might! Surely God wouldn't want him to stop leading the people now? Couldn't he take them over into the promised land? But God stands firm and tells him no. He must turn over the reins of leadership to Joshua. The time has come for Moses to step down and he is to do it graciously. His job now is to go and meet with Joshua, affirm his leadership of the people, and encourage and strengthen him. And Moses was obedient, doing as God commanded.
All of us will face times of transition in life where we move from one role to another. That role may be our position in the family, work or community, but there will be transitions. I have come to see these as different seasons in life. I remember the spring of life and how exciting and invigorating that was, especially with no real sense of responsibility. I remember the personal agony of moving into the summer season of life. I think it was the rude awakening of being a nursing major, watching my friends continue to enjoy spring, while I was dealing with death and dying on a regular basis. I almost fought the process as I grappled with the issues of life that confronted me on a daily basis. The freedom of spring was becoming a faded vision in the rear-view mirror. And yet I came to embrace that season in life. It was a time of taking on new responsibilities. I became a wife and then I became a mother. The focus of life was on family and home and there was joy in that season.
The transition to this fall season of life has been occurring over a number of years. Every time there is a transition there is a time of letting go and a time of reaching out and connecting to what lies ahead. On a personal level this transition has been a letting go of the focus on home and family and a reaching out to education, ministry and service. In some ways the transition has been a bit painful. Honestly, it's a struggle for moms to realize that their children don't need them as much as they did in the past. There's a time to let go of managing their lives and letting them be their own leaders. There's a time to encourage and strengthen them and bless them on the way in which they are called.
While this is true in the home, it is true in ministry as well. Throughout the years Chuck and I have been privileged to add spiritual children to our home. But there also comes that time when you have to step back and bless them and let them take over the work which you may have begun. There are moments when you argue with God, just as Moses did. You want to stay! You want to be the one that leads them into the promised land -- but it's not your job. Your job is to bless and encourage and allow them to lead.
I don't think I'm at the winter of my life yet which means that there will continue to be transitions ahead. All along I must allow God to lead and let go when the time is right. Holding on when you know you need to let go is disobedience. Moses knew that and his obedience to God allowed him to give up his own personal wants and follow through with God's plan. Joshua was the right man for the new hour. He didn't do things the same way that Moses had, but he was obedient and he served God faithfully. For Moses, it was time to step down.
Lord, throughout the transitions and seasons of life may I be obedient to your leading. Amen.