Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)
TITLE: Upon Mount Nebo
By Seema Bagai
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My gait is still smooth and my steps slow yet precise. The ground beneath my feet is solid. A gentle breeze washes over my wrinkled face and through my silver hair. In the distance, I can hear the quails’ faint songs. I keep a firm grip on my staff and lean on it as I walk. I would much rather not be making this journey, but it is what the Lord has commanded.
People my age would say climbing a mountain is tough. I have done it before and found it is not difficult. Public speaking, now that is challenging. I remember the first time I had to give a speech I was so terrified nothing came out of my mouth. Fortunately, my brother was there to speak on my behalf. It took a long time for me to muster the courage to speak up, but once I did, it was easy.
The tough part was trying to make others listen. Frogs, hail, locusts, blood, nothing convinced Pharaoh to let us leave. Even the darkness did not deter him. No matter what I said or did, his stubborn resolve grew until I was convinced his heart was made of stone and not flesh. Only after the firstborn died did he yield to the Lord’s demand to release us from slavery. The escape was difficult, but the Lord made a clear path for us.
After we left, the people were happy for a while. Then they started grumbling and complaining. They wanted water and meat. Over and over again, I took their requests to Him. Each time, He yielded and provided what they desired. I don’t think I would have been that patient. In fact, eventually I became frustrated with their complaints and made a large mistake. Over the years, I hoped the Lord would be sympathetic toward me, but His resolve has been firm.
The sun is now high overhead. My sandals crunch rhythmically in the dirt as I walk. I’ve done a lot of walking over the years and am in decent shape. Scarcely out of breath, I complete the easy climb. At the top, I stop and sit down on a large, flat rock. I squint in the intense sunlight and rub my eyes.
This is the moment I have waited for and anticipated for years. My heart thumps with excitement. The land stretches out as far as I can see. The place He has promised. The land flowing with milk and honey. It is more beautiful than I imagined. But, this is as close as I will come. My eyes grow damp. For a moment, I expect the Lord to relent, to allow me to join the people as they cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land. The thought passes as the weight of my sin presses upon me.
Looking down at the valley below, I think of the others. Yesterday, I blessed each tribe. I sang them the song He taught me. I love all of them greatly. They are blessed by the Lord and will prosper. Yet, I know they are going to have many tough days ahead of them. The Lord is softhearted, but stringent. As they enter the land, I pray they will always have yielding, obedient hearts.
The air becomes chilly as the sun sinks behind the horizon. As darkness falls, I gaze at the promised land until it disappears. My breathing becomes softer as I close my eyes. Lord, it is time for your servant to rest.
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