Do you know that tired, that weary in your bones, soupy muscles, achy mind kind of tired? When you have spent all of yourself on everything and everyone around you, leaving nothing to go another step? The Israelites in Deuteronomy were very familiar with this kind of tired.
On the cusp of the end of themselves and the beginning of a new adventure, the Israelites are about to enter the land that God had promised them generations before. Moses, their leader, pauses to bless each tribe. This is the encouragement they need as they enter a season unlike anything they have ever known. First, they had been nomadic wonderers waiting for a promise and then slaves under a cruel master. How that God promise, that dream, must have dwindled under the relentless sun almost to forgetfulness. Now, they catch a glimpse of forward movement, of hope, of a future. At long last, they will be a people with a home, a place to build, to become, to belong. It’s a thrilling prospect but an unseen future. How will they manage?
In this process of gaining new territory, Moses doesn’t want them to forget who leads them; he doesn’t want them to forget who they are, and so blessing after blessing rolls off his tongue. There’s enough to go around—there’s no limit to God’s generosity. To the tribe of Benjamin, he declares, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12 NIV).
You are shielded.
The Israelites are about to go into a land that their fathers had declared overrun with giants. The newness, the fears, the uncertainty are real. Just as real is God’s promise. “Yes,” God whispers, “there are things to overcome, but you are my beloved.” It may look treacherous, risky, but God shields us. We might get tired on the journey. We may feel like failures at times—we may even fail at times, but God’s offer of rest is not dependent on what we do—God’s rest is dependent on who God is. God’s lovingkindness is never changing.
The image that comes to mind as this blessing leaps from the pages of this sacred text is that of a mother with her child on her back. She may be hard at work; she may on an adventure; she may be exploring new grounds, but always, she’s aware of who rests between her shoulders. With the same attentiveness, God offers us this precious rest. Take a deep breath. You’re not alone. You are much loved. Whether you, like the Israelites, are experiencing God’s much longed for promises coming to life before your very eyes, or grieving an unimaginable loss, or feel like you’re still wondering in the not yet, God carries you and me between his shoulders. That is a good place to be. In whatever new season we find ourselves, between his shoulders is an invitation to rest securely. This is where we will be ready for the new and uncertain.
Movement Step: Take a deep breath. Read Deuteronomy 33:12 slowly out loud. Pause. Read it again. Pause. Then consider an area of your life in which you need to rest between God’s shoulders. Maybe it’s a relationship, a job, an uncertain future, a promising opportunity. Bring that area to God in prayer. Ask God to show you what it means to rest secure in him in that area.