Tag Archives: While You Were Sleeping

A Good Place

A Good Place (CaD Jos 21) Wayfarer

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 21:45 (NIV)

Looking back on my life journey, there are moments along life’s road when I found myself at a waypoint that was a “good place.” A milestone had been reached, a long-awaited goal was achieved, or life at that moment just seemed to be in a positive and peaceful flow.

I always try to remind myself to enjoy those moments when they happen. It never lasts.

One of the movies we tend to watch around Christmas time is the rom-com While You Were Sleeping. One of my favorite scenes is when the family patriarch, played by Peter Boyle, waxes eloquently about how he’s at one of those “good place” moments in life when everything is working out, everyone is getting along, every family member is doing well, and life is good. His son, played by Bill Pullman, has come over to drop a bombshell that he doesn’t want to inherit the family business, “Hey Pop,” the son says, “This isn’t one of those moments.”

In today’s chapter, the Levites are the last tribes to receive allotments. The Levites were the priestly tribe, and while they didn’t get tribal land, they were given towns within the other tribes to settle with their families, flocks, and herds. The priestly tribe was spread out and sprinkled within the other tribes so that every tribe had priests among them to perform priestly duties.

With that final distribution, the author of Joshua proclaims one of those “we’re in a good place” moments. A goal had been achieved as the major conquest campaigns were finished and there wasn’t an enemy left with the power to dislodge them. A milestone had been reached, and they were settled in the promised land. They were in a good place and took a moment to recognize God’s faithfulness and fulfilled promises.

Enjoy it. It won’t last.

I’m really not trying to be the pessimist here, but after 40+ years of studying the Great Story from Genesis to Revelation, I can tell you that this earthly journey is filled with trials, faith tests, and tough times. I’m told to expect it, to prepare for it, and to not be surprised when I think we’re finally in a “good place” on Life’s road. Then Life unexpectedly says, “You know what? This isn’t one of those moments.”

Being a disciple of Jesus, I’ve spent a lot of time studying His teachings, and a lot of them are about how I am to respond to the stuff that this earthly life throws at me:

When I am taxed, I’m to render unto Caesar.
When I am slapped, I’m to turn the other cheek.
When my coat is unjustly conscripted, I’m to offer my shirt as well.
When I’m forced against my will to walk one mile, I’m to walk two.
When I’m wronged, I’m to forgive, and forgive, and forgive, and forgive.
When I find myself with less, I’m to treasure what awaits me in eternity.
When I’m poor in spirit, I’m to consider myself blessed.
When I’m in mourning, I’m to consider myself blessed.

So many of Jesus’ teachings are predicated on the fact that I will face difficulties, hostility, pain, loss, and trials on this life journey.

So if and when I occasionally find myself at a waypoint that’s a good place and all seems right with the world, I’ve learned to enjoy the heck out of it, thank God for it, and soak it all in while I can.

The “good place” that the Hebrew tribes find themselves in today’s chapter will not last. The period of the Judges, which is the next book in the Great Story, is a time of systemic sin and cyclical violence. But, that’s still a few chapters away. In today’s chapter, everything is groovy.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

“This Isn’t One of Those Moments”

Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to their ancestors that he would give them; and having taken possession of it, they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors….
Joshua 21:43-44a (NRSV)

Sometimes, I find the most odd moments of a story to be the most memorable. There’s a great, rather arcane moment in the movie While You Were Sleeping that often comes to my mind. Peter Boyle plays Bill Pullman’s father, the owner of the family furniture business. Pullman’s character drops by the house with donuts early one morning and the father waxes philosophical about how you work hard all your life to reach that moment when life settles into a groove and everyone in the family is okay and everything is going to work out as you planned. Pullman, who has come that morning to disappoint his father and break the news that he doesn’t want the family business, sheepishly tells his father: “Pop, this isn’t one of those moments.”

We are all enamored with the happy ending. We are raised as children with our stories consistently ending “happily ever after.” We pay good money to watch Hollywood neatly tie up our movies with happy endings. Wendy and I just enjoyed playing the “awwww” moment for audiences in Almost, Maine when the couple in love have their magical moment as the snow begins to fall. We heard the audiences gasp and moan with contended delight as I lifted Wendy up and kissed her.

We all love a happy ending, and I found it interesting that today’s chapter contained a classic happy ending text. The tribes of Israel had possessed the land. The land was divided among the tribes. Prophecy fulfilled, enemies thwarted, promises claimed, and they all lived happily ever.

Hang on a sec. “Pop, this isn’t one of those moments.”

Things may have been happy for a moment, but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves with the “ever after” part. The story isn’t finished. We’ve reached a memorable waypoint in the journey. This is a momentary conclusion at the end of a chapter in the Great Story. There are more enemies lurking both without, and more insidiously, within.  The curse of Eden has not been addressed, and East of Eden the larger conflict still looms for humanity and must be resolved.

This morning I’m thinking about moments of peace I get to experience along life’s road. I’m remembering waypoints of contentment and the happy endings of particular chapters in this life journey that I’m blessed to have experienced. I’m equally mindful this morning that this is a journey through life, and I do not have the luxury of stopping the story like a DVR recording whenever and wherever I desire. I must press on, and I do not know what lies ahead for me or my loved ones. At the core, this is a faith journey for all of us.

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