Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bumps and Blessings

The Best Laid Plans

A while back, I posted details about my well laid blogging plans, how I would follow a schedule and blog regularly from here on out.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans... they go awry.

Bumps in the road.

So, my well laid plans for blogging hit some bumps in the road a few weeks back. First, I experienced a few days without internet access, and after that, I was caught in a procrastination loop, finally I was delayed even more from blogging because of a wonderful blessing to my family.

Internet Issues

So first, the internet problem. I have absolutely no idea what caused it, but I was without internet at my house for several days just after my last blog post. When it finally started working again, I found myself caught in that procrastination loop.

Procrastination loop.

What is a procrastination loop, you ask?

Its when you know that you really should something you dread before you do something else that is optional, but that you want to do. So you tell yourself you will not do that optional thing until you do the dreaded thing, but then you procrastinating the dreaded thing, and therefore don't get either thing done.

For me the loop I was caught in revolved around taxes.

For a business owner in Washington state, there are two different major categories of tax to be concerned with. The first is the excise taxes for businesses. This is a catchall phrase that encompasses the sales tax you collect from people when your business sells things at retail, plus the use taxes that are levied against out of state sales, plus the business and occupations taxes that are collected by your state and some counties. After the excise taxes, comes the income tax, which is the same income tax that everyone pays, the only difference for business owners is that we can deduct business expenses from our income total, which of course is only fair, since if I spend $50 manufacturing something, and then sell it for $70, I shouldn't have to pay income tax on $70, but only on my profit of $20.

The procrastination loop I spent time spinning around in was my excise taxes for business. I knew I needed to get those forms filed, but I was dragging my feet on all of the calculations I needed to do. The forms should have been in my January 30th, but circumstances I couldn't change had delayed them until after that date. That meant I was already going to be fined 9%, the next deadline was February 28th, after which the penalty jumped to 19%. I told myself that I shouldn't spend time blogging until after I completed the forms, but kept on putting off the paperwork.

The deadline I was now facing was February 28th, so obviously I did NOTHING until February 28th, and then spent several hours that day online and on the phone with the department of revenue completing my online forms. Finally the forms were done, and my family could file the income tax forms next. Those were done within days, since we actually pay someone to prepare those for us.

Then the waiting..

So, by March 2nd, I really was free to go ahead and blog, but I was out of the habit, not only that, but I was very distracted by waiting for a blessing I knew would come any day. That blessing was my first grandson, who, like my tax forms, was due on February 28th. Each day the whole family waited, expecting a call that it was time, and each day as we went to bed we were still waiting.

The Blessing on its Way

Finally, of March 6th, early in the morning the call came. I went to my daughter's house to pick up my granddaughter, so that my daughter and son in law could focus on getting my daughter through early labor at home, without having to worry about taking care of their first child.

More Bumps

My grandson was on his way, but there were more bumps in road also.

Inconsistent labor

My daughter's labor was pretty normal at first, though it was a bit inconsistent. Her contractions weren't following a regular pattern, so they stayed home timing them and waiting.

Intense labor

Then around 1:30 in the afternoon, her water broke so they headed to the hospital. After her water broke labor got very intense very fast, she was contracting with barely a break in between, and the contractions were very strong.

Baby struggling.

As soon as they got to hospital, the doctors realized that baby wasn't handling these intense contractions well. My daughter was dilated to a 6 when she arrived, and had managed to progress almost to an eight, but still not enough to start pushing. Yet with every contraction the baby's heart beat dropped drastically. The doctors felt that if they waited, the baby not might survive. So they took my daughter in for an emergency c-section. I arrived at the hospital just in enough time to see my daughter rushed by on a gurney. Now, the hospital we were at normally leaves a woman in the same room for the entire labor and delivery, so the fact that they were moving her was an obvious sign of trouble, but at that time I didn't know what the trouble was, I did deduce that she was probably having a c-section, but didn't get confirmation on that until my son-in-law came by all gowned up. I asked him what was up and he gave a quick summary before rushing off.

The Blessing Arrives.

A few minutes later, the baby was out, and thankfully was fine.

The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his shoulder, and was both holding him back, keeping him from descending and pushing against the cervix, and at the same time the cord was being pinched between the baby's shoulder and the pelvic bones with every contraction. Later the doctor confirmed that without a c-section a live birth wouldn't have happened.

 I am so thankful that we live in a day and age where the medical technology exists that can avert such tragedy. Because of the access we had to medical care, my daughter and my grandson are both healthy and doing great. Because we have access to this kind of medicine, what could have been a disaster turned into a minor bump in the road to great blessing.

I am so thankful.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our Way, or God's Way? Exodus 2:11-25

Whose Plan, Whose Way?

Was it God who decided to use Moses as a deliverer, or did Moses appoint himself to the task?  Click here to read Exodus 2:11-25.

God's Plan

God protected Moses as a baby.  God arranged for him to be put in a position of power and influence.  God arranged for him to still know his biological family by arranging his own mother to be nurse maid.  God did all this with the intention that when Moses grew up, he would deliver the children of Israel out of slavery, out of Egypt, and lead them back to the promised land.

It was all in God's plan to use Moses for this task.  The idea didn't originate in Moses' own mind, God put it on his heart and mind.  However, Moses decided to try to make it happen in his own way and in his own strength, instead of waiting on God.  There's no telling now, how God might have brought this about if Moses had waited patiently and prayerfully.  Maybe God would have used Moses' position of influence to accomplish the whole thing peacefully, and then would have judged Egypt for their sins in a separate series of events.  Or maybe the deliverance itself would have still happened the same way, but Moses wouldn't have spent years on the run in desert before being used.  We don't know, because Moses didn't wait, but decided to make things happen on his own.

Moses took matters into
his own hands.

Moses' Way

Moses' childhood was probably one of conflicted loyalties.  He knew that his adoptive "grandfather" would have had him killed if not for his adoptive mother taking pity.  No doubt there was some resentment between him and Pharaoh, and probably between Pharaoh and Pharaoh's daughter, and between Moses and Pharaoh's biological grandchildren.  Even though he was protected from death by Pharaoh's family, and there was probably a bond between Moses and his adoptive mother, it is quite likely that he grew up feeling like an outsider to the family, and felt more of bond with his biological family. 

One day Moses was walking along, with the burden for God's people on his heart because God placed it there, and the conflicted loyalties in his mind because of his upbringing, and he saw an Egyptian man beating his Hebrew slave.

Anger rose up in Moses' heart, and he didn't stop and pray, he didn't ask God what he should do. Instead, he acted in his flesh, and in his anger murdered the Egyptian man.

That was Moses' way, not God's, and Moses paid the price acting on his own.

The Aftermath

Because of his indiscretion, Moses had to flee for his life.  He ran off into the desert as a fugitive. Acts Chapter 7 tells us that he spent the next 40 years in the wilderness caring for sheep.  He was in exile, but God still had mercy and blessed him during this time.  He was married and had children, he was close to his father in law.  He was not living the comfortable life he had before, but he was living a life that was normal for that time in history.  During this time, the Pharaoh died and new one rose in his place, this was most likely Moses' "adopted" brother, who would have viewed Moses as a betrayer and an ingrate.  God's people in Egypt, however, were still suffering, and it was getting worse (further evidence that this new Pharaoh too, was hardening his own heart).  Of course, God still knew what His plan was, and when God's time was right, He moved.

Moses spent 40 years in exile because
of his impatience and anger.

Still all in God's plan

Much of scripture presents us with a paradox, man has free will, but God is sovereign.  I won't pretend to understand every nuance of how both of these are true, I just know that they are.  What I will say though is that Moses' life is a good example of both of these things.  God had a plan to use Moses, but Moses in his free will acted on his own before the time was right, and suffered consequences for that.  God's will though was not thwarted.  In fact, God in his sovereignty knew all along that Moses would do this, and planned to use the time of exile to prepare Moses for what he was called to do.

Before exile, Moses had lived a protected and lavish life.  He lived in the palace.  He may have not had a complete feeling of belonging, but even so he was able to avail himself of all the comforts of royalty.  It is reasonable to assume that he was not accustomed to hard work, and probably not in the best physical shape.

Before exile, Moses seems to have been a bit proud and possibly bitter over both his alienation from his adopted family and his distance from his biological family.  Its likely that he didn't really feel like he belonged any place, and yet with all that he was still somewhat accustomed to getting what he wanted because he lived as royalty.  This probably had a lot to do with why he presumed to take matters into his own hands rather than wait on God.  He thought he knew well enough on his own, he didn't need to ask God for help, he assumed that the Israelites too, would recognize that he was doing God's will, and would deliver them.  In short, he was arrogant.

After 40 years of living in exile, Moses was used to hard physical labor.  He was used to working for everything he got.  He was used to living with little.  In that time he had probably also had a lot of time to think and to mature, and probably realized how he had messed up.  He probably even questioned whether it was really his calling to deliver God's people, he probably didn't feel worthy of such a call.  Moses was physically hardened, but spiritually softened.  He was aware of his own sins, weaknesses, and inadequacies.  In short, he was humbled.

And that meant, he was ready to be used.

God used Moses' exile to
humble him and
prepare him for his calling.

Lord help us to be humble and to pray for your guidance in our lives. Help us to fulfill your call on our lives in YOUR way and in YOUR time.  Thank you though, that even when we fail, we can be assured that you will use even those failings to accomplish YOUR will. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Total Surrender - Exodus 2:1-10

When You Just Can't Win, Surrender All

Sometimes in life, we face circumstances that make it seem like we just can't win. The enemy is closing in, everywhere we turn, we face opposition, and from a human point of view, there is no hope.  Often though, we just don't realize that our deliverance is at hand.

It is darkest just before dawn.

Often in those dark times, what we are seeing is just the darkness before the dawn of hope.  To see that dawn though, God often often requires us to give up control.  To surrender everything to Him, and give it up as lost.  That is the situation that was faced by a couple in Egypt in our Bible passage today.

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.    Exodus 2:1-4
 This Hebrew couple were in a situation where there appeared to be no hope, no way out.  They had a brand new baby boy, something that should have brought such joy, but they were haunted and overshadowed by the knowledge that as soon as anyone learned of his birth, their baby would die.  Pharaoh had declared that all of the Hebrew baby boys would be killed at birth, and if they managed to be born in secret, they were to be tossed into the Nile to drown as soon as they were discovered. This couple managed to have their baby, and to keep him hidden until he was three months old, but it was becoming impossible to continue hiding him.  Babies make noise, soon he would be crawling and moving about, there was just no way to continue hiding him.

This young mother, I'm sure looked down on her boy and felt her heart break.  Like any mother, she loved him with her whole heart, and wanted to hold him and keep him close.  She would have died to save him, but that wouldn't have done any good, because if she had died in his defense, he would just have been killed anyway.  In her own strength, she simply could not save this little life, it was impossible.  I imagine that every time she walked near the Nile, she would look at the water and shudder at the thought of her baby thrown into the water, sinking, unable to breathe.

I'm not sure what made her think of what she did next, but it involved complete surrender of her child's life.  She went to the very river that was ordered to be his watery grave, laid him in a little basket that she had sealed to keep the water out, and hid him in the reeds.  Imagine how hard it was for her to leave him there.  What if the basket tipped over?  What if one of the crocodiles got him?  What if someone heard his cries and threw him in? I'm sure as she walked away, she felt that he was dead.  She couldn't bring herself to toss him into the river as ordered, but what she did really offered him little more hope than that would have.  When she placed him in that river, she was essentially giving him up to God, the only one who could save him.  She placed him in his grave.  Surrendering all control over what happened to him.

His older sister may not have been so ready to let go, because she stayed nearby, to see what would happen to her little brother.

From the Watery Grave, Came New Life 

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Imagine the fear that his sister felt when she saw Pharaoh's daughter discover the baby.  After all, this was the daughter of the person who wanted to murder every Hebrew baby.  It would have been considered right and expected of her to order her attendants to follow her father's orders and drown this child.  But then, in the face of certain death in a watery grave, deliverance happened.

The Pharaoh's daughter felt pity on this helpless baby.  She didn't want to kill him, its not really surprising, because who could hold a baby and want to hurt him?

The baby's sister then went and got her own mother to serve as a nurse-maid for this child.

Imagine the absolute joy and relief that filled this mother's heart when she learned that her child would now be under the protection of the very family that previously sought to kill him, the most powerful family in all of Egypt.  The most powerful family in the known world at the time.   Imagine her elation when she also learned, that not only would her child's life be saved, but she was now going to be the one to continue caring for him, only now without fear.

She had to surrender all hope, she had to give up her child to God, but God, in His goodness and kindness, returned her child to her arms.

Not only did God deliver her child, but He did so as part of a plan to deliver the entire nation of Israel.

And it was all made possible because a mother surrendered to God.

When we come to the end of ourselves, and there is just no way we can win.  It is then that we are ready to surrender to God.  Once we do that, we get out of His way so He can bring His perfect will to pass, and we know that His will works all to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Sometimes, letting go is the best way to hold on.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Time of Darkness, for Egypt - Exodus 1

Exodus 1, A Time of Great Darkness

It had started out so well...

At the end of Genesis, we see that Israel's children escape certain starvation through Joseph, who although sold into Egypt as a slave, according to God's plan had risen to a position of great influence and power, and had wisely saved not only himself and his family, but all of Egypt.

Exodus begins with a recap of who among the children of Israel had made the journey, and tells us that those mentioned, that whole generation, lived the rest of their lives in Egypt and had all passed away, leaving their descendants to thrive and multiply in Egypt. 

I'm sure to those children of Israel who had traveled to Egypt, it seemed that the future of their descendants was secure.  They were in Egypt, fed, and taken care of.  They had been given the entire land of Goshen as their own.  Their family was well acquainted with, and friends to, the family of Pharaoh himself.  When that generation passed away, they probably did so without worry for their children and grandchildren, they were leaving them well taken care of and set for the future.

An adversary rises up, out of fear...

In verse 8-10 we read, "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”

The people of Israel had not done anything wrong, they were not acting as enemies of the Egyptians.  Their ancestor Joseph had in fact, saved Egypt from ruin and famine. Yet this new Pharaoh didn't know their ancestor Joseph, he looked around his land and saw a people, larger in number than the native Egyptians.  A people with different customs, different beliefs, a different language.  A people with a different God.  A people who wouldn't have believed, as the Egyptians did, that Pharaoh himself was a god, or in the other gods of Egypt such as the sun god, the god of the Nile, or even the god of fertility, who took the form a frog.

Statue of Heqat, the Frog Goddess,
about 2950 BC, Predynastic Period,
 Late Naqada III Period to early Dynasty 1,
 travertine - Cleveland Museum of Art

Seeing a people so different from his own people, the pharaoh feared, he feared that these people who had never threatened him in any way, would continue to grow and take over his country, and at some point would turn on him and his people.  He was motivated and controlled by one of humankind's strongest emotions... fear.

The preemptive strike...

In the grip of his irrational fear he did what people with irrational fear often do, he struck out at them first, before they had a chance to strike out at him.  He took a preemptive strike. He set taskmasters over the people of Israel "to afflict them". He made life extremely hard for them, put them in bondage, made slaves of them.
While their ancestor Joseph had risen from a position of slavery into a position of power and influence, his descendants now fell rapidly from a position of security and safety into a position of slavery and hardship. It probably seemed to them as if the were spiraling into a abyss of darkness, but it is doubtful that even they knew just how dark it would become.

Total blackout...

As things grew darker for the people of Israel, God continued to bless them. They grew stronger, their numbers grew larger, in fact it seemed to Pharaoh, that the more he afflicted these people, the more they multiplied and grew... and with their growth, the power of Pharaoh's fear grew as well.  This fear prompted him to take a terrible course of action.

This Pharaoh hardened his own heart against all that was decent, and ordered the Egyptian midwives to murder the Hebrew sons at birth. We'll read later about how God hardened the next Pharaoh's heart, but make no mistake, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart first as well. How do we know this? We know this because he continued in the decrees that this one started.  He hardened it to the point of murdering helpless newborn babies. He hardened his own heart against the cries of the babies and the wails of mothers' lamenting their little boys. Later, God would finish the hardening of his heart, but only after Pharaoh had made the choice to reject all that was decent and good, only after Pharaoh had ignored his own conscience until finally, God let it be seared and stopped speaking to Pharaoh through it. The book of Romans speaks of this kind of hardening, of how as man repeatedly suppresses the truth of God and ignores the wisdom freely offered to them, God eventually turns them over to a debased mind, basically telling them that since they choose over and over not to know God, He will allow them to continue not knowing Him, and will seal and finalize the deal of their hard, rebellious hearts.

While this order of the king seemed like a total blackout of hope for God's people, God had a plan in the works to free them.  The real shadow was in the heart of Pharaoh, because he chose not to know God or be thankful toward Him, Pharaoh's foolish heart was darkened to the point of total blackout.  Meanwhile, God's deliverance of his people was at hand.

Point of Action

God speaks to everyone in their conscience, even those who don't actually know Him still hear from Him in general terms of right and wrong.  It is a frightening thing when one continues to ignore this voice. Dear reader, do not harden your heart against God.  He loves you.  If you are already a believer, He will speak to you about what he wants you to do in your walk with Him, heed Him do not harden your heart.  If you do not yet know Him, He is speaking to you that He wants you to welcome Him into your life, He is reaching out to you, calling to you.  All you need to do is respond, ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you, tell Him that He is welcome in your life.  Don't harden your heart like Pharaoh did, because it is short trip from the choice to harden your own heart to the point of total blackout, where you won't hear Him anymore.

Don't harden your heart against the love of Christ, revealed in His word.

Be sure to check back Saturday February 4th for the next post.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Colossians 2-3

Its been so long since I posted. I won't make any promises this time about any new approach or new frequency of posting, rather, I will just share what the Lord showed me today in my time with Him.

Colossians 2:20-3:4 "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

The way to walk the Christian walk is not to lay on yourselves rules and regulations, but rather, to so fill your focus with the things of eternity that the temptations of this world pale and fade away from view.

So often Christians get this backward, telling themselves, "I can't have this, I can't touch that, must not look upon that, need to stop thinking about this thing..." And that just doesn't work.  Instead, we need to so shift our whole focus, that thoughts of Christ, of Heaven, of eternity, crowd out thoughts of sinful or selfish desires.  We need to turn our backs on those things, and turn our faces to Christ, to be so consumed by His glory and beauty that these other things are no longer even attractive to us.

So today my prayer is that Christ will be ever before me, present in my thoughts, central in my mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are You Qualified for Ministry?

Then Moses said to the Lord, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."

So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind?  Have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."  Exodus 4:10-12

Have you ever believed that God had called you to do something, but feared that you were just not qualified for that roll? 

Perhaps God has called you to teach Sunday School, but you have no experience as a teacher, and feel that you don't really know how to handle children.

Maybe God has prompted you to lead a Bible Study or a home fellowship, but you feel you are just not designed to be a leader.

It could be that God has asked you share your faith with a friend, neighbor, or even a total stranger, and you don't think you can find the right words, or that you know the Bible well enough to explain it to someone else.

You could be a parent who knows that God has called you to homeschool your child, yet you question whether you are smart enough, have enough patience, or will be able to get by financially while at the same time committing that much time and energy into your kids.

Or possibly, God has even called you to formal ministry, asking you to become a missionary in a foreign country or a pastor, and you question your ability to handle such a roll, don't know if you are academically inclined for the study such a roll calls for, or feel you have some other  roadblock to that ministry.

That is how Moses felt when God spoke to him from the burning bush and told him that he was chosen to deliver the children of Israel from bondage. First he presented God with many questions about how it would work it out, first of all saying, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"  He was in essence asking God, "Are you sure you've got the right man? I'm no one important."  In one sense this attitude was right, he was not looking to himself to try to accomplish this deliverance, perhaps because he had tried that before and it had failed, he knew that he alone could not deliver anyone. (See Exodus 2:11-13 to learn what happened when Moses tried to deliver in his own strength.)  However, although part of his attitude was right here, after God assured him that He would be with Him, Moses continued to question.  He asked what to do if the children of Israel did not believe that God had sent him and what if the Pharaoh didn't believe Him, all of these questions God answered patiently. 

Then Moses pointed to his own inadequacy as a speaker, saying he was slow of speech, as if  God would not already have known every strength and every weakness within the man He created.  So God once again patiently answers Moses, reminding him that it is He, God, who created every person.  It is He who made each one with their inborn strengths and weaknesses, even disabilities.  He was aware of every weakness, and yet had chosen Moses, and promised to be with him and with his mouth to teach him what to say.

Who knows, if Moses had stopped questioning God at this point, and simply obeyed, perhaps God would have healed him of his speech impediment, we will never know, because Moses continued on trying to get out of God's calling.  Asking the Lord, "Oh my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." (Exodus 4:13)  Moses was saying, "God, I know you are saying that you will be with me, and that you will give me the words, I know that you are promising to bless this endeavor, but still, I'd rather not do it.  Please find someone else, and leave me here to tend my sheep."  God became angry at this point, but still did not revoke His call on Moses, rather He sent Moses a helper, a partner, to speak for him.

So back to you, has God called you to do something?  If He has has, know that you do NOT need to be "qualified".  God has selected you for the task knowing full well that you are not qualified He knows every weakness, every flaw, every disability in your physical, mental, and spiritual makeup.  He is aware of you impatience, or lack of education, or inability to concentrate.  He knows your fear of public speaking and you inexperience at the task at hand.  He even knows all your past sin, the things you've done that you think make you not good enough to serve Him, not only that, He even knows your future sin.  Yet, He is calling you anyway. 

It is He who made you.  He is the one who gave you whatever abilities you do have.  Moreover, He is more than capable of putting within you the abilities that you don't yet have.  If He has called you to something, He will equip you.  He will give you strength, the wisdom, and the skill you need to accomplish what He asks you to do.  He will use you in spite of your weakness, so that you will know that it is not you who is really doing the work, but that it is He working through you.

What you must do is obey.  It is fine to question God enough for clarification, to ask Him what the next step is, but once He tells you that next step, you must be willing to take it.

As I've said, who knows if God planned to heal Moses' speech impediment had he obeyed right away? Moses asked God legitimate questions, and was answered and reassured, He had clear leading, having heard the voice of YHWH Himself, yet He asked God to send someone else.  Perhaps in doing so he missed out on a wonderful blessing of miraculous healing from the hand of God.  God is good, and still blessed Moses and his ministry immensely, still used Moses in a mighty way, but it is possible that Moses missed on personal blessing through his reluctance to trust and serve the Lord.

Don't make the same mistake as Moses.  If you have God's clear leading and clear calling, go ahead and ask God enough questions so that you know what action He wants you to take next, but once you know that, go ahead and act on what He has told you, take that first step in faith, trusting God to take care of whatever difficulties arise.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When All Hope Seems Gone

Today's thoughts are on Exodus 1-2

"So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river..." Exodus 1:22

Imagine the sense of hopelessness you would experience, if you were a pregnant Hebrew woman in Egypt at this time.  Knowing that if God blessed you with a boy, the enemy would try to turn that blessing into a curse, and rip the baby from your arms to cruelly murder him by drowning, even his little body likely becoming food for the crocodiles rather than being mourned in dignified burial.  Would you pray earnestly that God please send you only daughters?  Would you try to escape to another land? 

What if, when your time came to be delivered, and your heart surged with joy at the sound of a healthy baby's cry, you looked and felt your heart sink like a stone as you realized the beautiful, healthy baby was a boy.  Would you at this time perhaps, contemplate suicide?

This is the situation the mother of Moses faced.  Pregnant, knowing that if she had a son she would see him murdered.  She must have hid her pregnancy, because after she gave birth to her son, she continued to hide the newborn for three months.  Imagine those three months, living almost entirely within the walls of your house, terrified.  Every time your baby cries you rush to quiet him as quickly as you can, praying the whole time that God will deafen your enemy's ears.  Wondering what on earth you will do when the child gets too big to hide, knowing that at some point you will have to deal with Pharaoh's command, but looking down into your baby boys sweet face, and telling yourself, "Not today.  Surely I keep him hidden, keep him with me, just one more day." 

Finally, one day, she realized that she could just not keep him hidden any longer.  His little body was growing, his lungs were strong, when he was younger, she could leave him sleeping alone for a time, and go about whatever her work was, making an appearance in public so people wouldn't wonder what had become of her.  Now though, the baby is awake more, is cooing and playing, and cries louder, he is no longer content to sleep large portions of the day.  She realizes that there is no way that she can continue to hide him, but she also knows that there is no way she can bear to see him cast into the river.

So, in desperation, all real hope seeming to be gone, she prayerfully prepares a little basket boat.  She seals it carefully, so that it is watertight.  She carefully lays the baby's favorite blanket in in to wrap around him.  Then she places her beloved son into the basket, which probably looked so much like coffin to her, and closed the lid.  Then she placed her precious child into the very river that he seemed doomed to drown in.  As the basket began to drift away, she probably felt as if her very heart and soul were drifting away, down the river.  She knows that all reasonable hope for her child is gone, if an Egyptian doesn't find him and cast him into the river, a crocodile is bound to turn the basket over,  or eventually it will drift far down the river and her baby will be alone, with no one to care for him and feed him, and will slowly die.   All rational hope is gone, yet this mother dares to hope, she hopes enough to try, to make the little ark.  Perhaps her hope was just the irrational desperation of a mother about to be bereaved, with little real faith involved.  Or perhaps, trusted God enough to know that he would take care of her child.  Either way, it really didn't matter, she had enough hope, enough faith, to act on it and put her child in the basket rather than allowing him to be cast into the river, and that was enough for God to work with.

If you read the rest of the passage, you know that the daughter of Pharaoh himself is the one who finds the baby.  Surely, this is not what the mother expected.  The one family that she least wanted to find her child is the one that does, but God intervenes.  God causes Pharaoh's daughter to fall in love with the little baby in a basket.  And then, she hires the baby's own mother to care for him, whereas before she had to hide and fear her child's death, now she not only does not need to hide or fear, but is in fact being paid wages to just stay home and raise her own child!

So here, the mother of Moses has handed over the very hope of her heart into God's hands, has abandoned what matters most to her into His care, deciding that whatever He chooses is best, even if what He chooses is to take her child from her.  And God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, places her child back into her arms, this time protected by the very one who sought to kill him before.  In doing so, He was not only answering the prayers of this mother's heart, but was already preparing the answer for the prayers of the whole nation, preparing for the deliverance of His children from bondage, something that would not happen for over 50 years, but which God was already acting on.

What about us?  When the world around us seems to crumble, when the economy fails and we don't see how we will pay our bills?  Are we ready to trust God?  To seek Him and ask Him to show us what He might want us to hand over to Him, trusting that His will is best, even if it is not what we would choose?