According to the Jewish Midrash, God wept after Moses died, as did the heavens and the earth. Deuteronomy 34:6 tells us, "God buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor; and no one knows his burial place to this day." The Midrash says God leans down from the heavens and ends Moses' life with a soft, gentle kiss. This is arose from Deuteronomy 34:5 where it is says: "So Moses, the servant of the Eternal, died there, in the land of Moab, at the command of the Eternal." The Hebrew reads, al pi Adonai, "by the mouth of the Eternal," a legend about God kissing Moses at his moment of death. It's a moving picture of God giving breath to Adam in Genesis, here taking back breath from Moses.
This is a very tender account of a moment of death, God present, God burying His friend. God inhaling the fragrant life of his saint. It's often very difficult to perceive God in the midst of pain, suffering or loss, even the biblical account of Jesus's death on the cross has him crying out in the dark forsaken place of death (Matt. 27). The true test of the reality of faith is found in the crucible of pain and pleasure. It takes deep contemplation and wisdom to train ones mind and heart to believe in loving God among thorns and roses, death and kisses. I read this selection from a post by Michael Spencer that touched my heart and helped me find kisses in my own messes and distresses.
In his book "Mortal Lessons" physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face:
I stand by the bed where the young woman lies . . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . .private.
Who are they? I ask myself . . . he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.
This is who Jesus has always been. And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. He wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness and our ugly, ever-present sin. Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you.
It’s all ME. And I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear — all of it. Take all it, Lord Jesus. If I don’t present this broken, messed up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.” - Michael Spencer