There was a time in my life—shortly after dropping out of Eden Seminary—when I seriously considered becoming a police officer. The thought first pierced my mind about a month before leaving seminary. I was interning at a small rural church in Onega, Kansas. One day, the pastor and I went to visit a shut-in named Ruth to chat and serve her communion. As we were conversing, I began to daydream. I pictured myself sitting in a similar home; having a similar conversation. However, in my fantasy, I was interviewing Ruth because she was a suspect in a brutal crime. I contemplated how I would read her facial expressions while trying to detect deception…how I would phrase my questions in order to trap this 90-year-old woman and rattle the truth out of her. Shaking the daydream and briefly rebuking it as a ridiculous thought, I left Ruth’s house still considering detective work as a serious possibility for a future career. I wanted to climb my way up the ranks and work homicide. I wanted to slam my fists down on the surface of the table in the integration room and pretend to get Ruth coffee while she wallowed in her guilt and the truth sweat out of her. Sure, I’d seen too many movies and television shows, and yet those shows just placated my delusions and flooded my fantasies.
Truth be told…I’m an extremely gullible, oblivious, and naïve person. I can only focus on one thing at a time. I can’t read facial expressions. Someone could lie to my face and I would believe everything she said. Ruth could have murdered my closest friend, confessed it while she was receiving communion, and I wouldn’t have detected it because I was too busy dreaming about my life as a homicide detective while sitting in her Louis XV open-arm French chair.
Even though I’m clueless to my surroundings while watching a movie, or driving, or working, or focusing on a conversation, I occasionally glimpse the Divine. I witness a 12-year-old girl experience an aha moment while I’m teaching the youth group about Jesus’ love. I come to the summit of a 14er, look out upon the breadth of the Rockies, and see God. My daughter tells me she loves me. My girlfriend holds my hand. My prayers are answered in an obvious and systematic way to where I’m 100% assured that God exists and listens and acts. These are the times when I find my Nebo. These are the moments when I know God keeps God’s promises and God loves me wholly, completely, and eternally.
On the day of his death, Moses climbed Mount Nebo, just east of the Jordan River across from Jericho. Upon reaching the summit, the Lord showed Moses the entire Promised 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.” Moses had accomplished his purpose as the leader to the wandering Israelites as they made their journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Moses found Nebo and saw the Divine. Moses witnessed that God is a God who keeps promises. God is a God who loves wholly, completely, and eternally. Moses died after finding Nebo and he is remembered as the greatest prophet in Israel whom the Lord knew face to face (Deut. 34:10).
If someone as oblivious to his surroundings as I happen to be can often witness the love of God, it has to exist. Just think if I actually paid attention. Wow! I’d find Nebo every day. God has a plan and purpose for everyone—and the end result is for all of us to discover that God loves us, and God desires that each of us find freedom, a full life, love, compassion, companionship, hope, and increasing joy.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
—John 10:10, Amplified Bible
Jesus is promising us life to the fullest here and now. This is good news. This is Gospel. Finding Jesus is finding Nebo. In Jesus, we discover the ultimate Promise of God. Jesus is the Promised Land. Jesus is west of the Jordan. Jesus is the other side of wilderness, aimless wandering, slavery, hunger, thirst, war, devastation, plague, illness, pain, destructiveness, death. From the mountaintop, Moses witnessed redemption—a glimpse of Jesus—and with that he witnessed the glory of the coming of the Lord. When we find Nebo, we see those moments where God shines through. We see the same thing Moses saw—Jesus in all His glory.
The night before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. In the almost surreal, prophetic conclusion of that speech, Dr. King said:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!