“The People of Israel did everything that God commanded Moses. They did it all.” Numbers 1:54 (MSG)
I was listening to a critically acclaimed author being interviewed on the radio yesterday. When asked what she had learned in her experience at the University of Iowa’s famed Writer’s Workshop, she mentioned that she gained an appreciation for reading well and the importance of a prologue and an epilogue.
Many people skip the brief sections at the beginning and end of a novel. Prologues set the scene and they give you a foreshadow of what follows. Epilogues tie things together and contemplate the story at its conclusion.
As I read today’s chapter, I remembered the author’s words because I felt like I was reading the prologue to the Book of Numbers. The scene is being set. Around two million former slaves are living in tents in the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula. In two years and two months time they’ve been organized into their twelve tribes and taken a good census to know who they have and how many are present. Through Moses a rule of law has been established along with a religious system revolving around a large tent sancturary which can be torn down to travel with them.
This prologue to the book of Numbers ends with the statatement that the people had done everything God asked of them. In other words, they were off to a good start.
Starting well is not an issue for most of us. We can start most anything. Each New Year’s we can pen a prologue about the good start on our diet, exercise, weight loss, organization, debt reduction, savings, project, etc., etc., and etc. Getting off to a good start is the easy part. Most people start life with cute baby pictures tucked in sweet baby books filled with cuddly memories and loads of promise.
The real question is this: when my body is laying in a casket and the final chapter of my life story has been written, what will be said in the epilogue?