Gender, nationality, age, geography, and time in history—we are radically different, you and I. God used you to free a nation, destroy the oppressors, give the law, set up the tabernacle, and pen the Pentateuch. Given all that—it does not seem that we have much in common.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder how it felt when you stood by the bush. I don’t feel the wind off the fire or hot sand burning my feet—but I join you, barefoot, on holy ground staring at the mystery of a life full of anomalies.
I find it endearing that you kept telling God how incapable you were at speaking. The vocal limitations didn’t stop you when you forever stopped that Egyptian beating a slave. Or when you tried to help the two fighting Hebrews. Or when you drove away the men to rescue the women at the well the day you arrived in Midian. I’m guessing 40 years of quiet in the desert left you painfully aware of your weaknesses. It’s easy for all of us to think there is power in being capable when the power has always been in dependence.
Ah, weakness. That’s what helps us relate to you, Moses. You knew you were not capable. The task was too great. Your abilities, too small. How well we can identify!
Your life was the epic rags-to-riches-to-rags story. From death sentence and slavery at birth, to growing up as royalty, to letting go of all the privilege. Did you think often of Joseph and wonder when your time would come to return his bones and his people to the land God promised?
Once you fled for your life, were you glad to be out of the palace or did the desert feel like death? Did you ever wonder why women—including your birth mom and possibly your adopted mom—had risked their lives to keep you alive so that you could lead sheep and live coated by the grit of fine sand?
You grew up knowing the constant threat of death as an immigrant in a hostile country, the isolation of being a cross-culture adoptee, and the pain of rejection by the ones you gave up everything to help. Yet, when God’s call came, just as Jacob had limped into Egypt leaning on his staff all those years before, you took your staff and entered Egypt leaning on Aaron to help you speak.
Those of us who watch from this distance can’t help but feel with you the pain when you faced rejection again and again and again. If anyone would have required a 360-degree leader review—you would have had negative comments from all sides. Amid constant complaints and hostility, you followed God, interceded for those who wanted to revolt and kill you, and delivered the oppressed (who didn’t want deliverance).
We read and re-read your story, Moses, for it is our story.
At times—we are the Hebrew slaves. Once we were gloriously freed, we (like them) end up with what would come to be known as Stockholm syndrome—identifying more closely with our captors than with our liberators.
At other times—we are you and Aaron and Miriam. Sometimes singing and dancing in deliverance. Sometimes bearing shame for returning to idols. And, sometimes attacking the Rock in anger.
Moses, thank you,
- For paying attention to a bush that wouldn’t burn up. You make us aware that illogical things sometimes foreshadow a plot-twist in God’s epic story of redemption.
- For being the kind of leader who does not give people what they want, but what God wants for them.
- For telling us your story with such vulnerability. Turns out, weakness is the perfect backdrop to show off God for all He’s worth.
You led more than sheep around a desert. More than slaves to freedom. You lead those in every generation who stand against oppression. With God’s help, we follow your faith into our own freedom.