By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the King’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27)
Moses was born to slaves. At the age of eighty God called Moses to free slaves. Moses, however, was never a slave. He was raised by the slave-owners.
The Nile River was to be the place of death for baby Hebrew boys. Shrewdly, Moses’ mother hid him in the Nile, and there Moses was found. The Nile was a place of salvation for Moses. It sits silently in the meaning of his name: “I drew him out of the water.”
Pharaoh’s daughter finds the baby Moses – but big sister Miriam wisely arranges to have Moses’ own mother nurse him. Not only that, the nursing mother gets paid.
Moses leads the Hebrews through the wilderness, constantly in route to the destination God had promised. Once they get close, Moses loses his temper and his venting costs him big time. After leading so much of the journey, Moses will not enter the Promised Land.
One of the things you’ll notice about the Moses stories is that few of them unfold as we might expect. Moses’ life, and especially his very early life, is characterized by the unlikely, the unexpected, the unintended. It is almost as if God delights in working this way. Moses himself probably rehearsed these surprises in his own mind; they strengthened his faith and helped him to persevere. The surprises revealed the one who is invisible.
The Moses stories invite us to look at our own stories. Look for the twists and turns, the plans that didn’t quite work out like you thought they would, the delights you never saw coming, the heartaches that turned you inside out while teaching you something you could have never learned any other way. Where do you see now what you never saw coming then?
My wife and I dated and eventually married while we were living in Houston. Nothing unusual about that – except that she and I grew up in the same church in Atlanta. I didn’t really know her then. I was (and remain) six years older than she is. High school seniors did not date 6th graders. It wasn’t cool, and besides, the 6th grader’s parents didn’t encourage it.
When Marnie and I met in Houston she was working at a Presbyterian Church. Her boss was Vic Pentz. “Oh yeah, I watch him on TV on Sunday mornings.” Now I’m a Presbyterian and Vic Pentz is my boss too. I’d have never dreamed that part of my story in a thousand years. Twists and turns. If you want to learn about the grace and sovereignty of God, don’t read a systematic theology book. Just look at your own story, and look for the surprises. God is often found in the unlikely, the unexpected, the unintended.
We give you thanks O God for the surprising ways in which you work. Remind us today that what seems like disaster may be your design; that the stories we live are authored by your tender hand. Help us to persevere in faith, finding you in the twists and turns that that come our way. Amen