Monday, July 20, 2015

Hard to Hide

He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Exodus 2:11-15).

He thought he was safe there. 

In Midian Moses had found the kind of obscurity that allowed an outlaw to live a normal life.  There he had embarked on his career as a shepherd, married the daughter of the local priest, and started a family.  His son’s name might have reflected something about how Moses regarded life in Midian: Gershon means “I have become an alien in a foreign land.”

Every time the boy was introduced, people heard, “I don’t belong here.”  And that might have been exactly how Moses felt. 

The Illusion of Distance

Moses wasn’t sure where he belonged. For most of his life he had been cocooned in Egyptian royalty.  His aristocratic upbringing hadn’t prepared him well for life in Midian – but that unfortunate incident in which he murdered an Egyptian task-master changed everything.  Moses was a wanted man back in Egypt and Midian seemed as good a place as any to settle. 

What Midian offered Moses was distance: Distance from one of the biggest mistakes he had ever made; distance from his past; distance from his failure; distance from threat and shame.  In Midian Moses thought he was safe.

How strange then that in the far side of the desert, in a remote and hardscrabble place, God shattered Moses’ illusion of safety and obscurity.  Near Mt. Horeb – a word that means “desolate” – God shrunk the distance that Moses had tried to put between himself and Egypt, between the man he used to be and the man he had actually become. God found Moses in that barren, distant place. There God spoke words that would change Moses’s plans and redefine his identity and force him from hiding.

God Finds Us          

The story of Moses’s early life is full of failed attempts at hiding. Moses’s mother tried to hide him among the reeds in the river when he was a baby. That didn’t work. Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby. Later, as a young man. Moses killed and Egyptian and tried to hide him in the sand. That didn’t work either. The deed was known among the Hebrews. Forced to Midian as a fugitive, Moses tried to hide among the flocks in a backwater place. Again, nice try – but even in that place after forty years, Moses was found.    

Try as we might, it’s hard to hide from God. God did not put you on this earth to hide. And the work it takes to conceal and cover up is not worthy of your life. 

God has a way of finding us.  A colossal lapse of judgment may ruin your plans, but it doesn’t disqualify you from being a part of what God has planned for you.  In those moments when you’re no longer sure who you are, God knows you right down to your fingerprints.  When you’re busy getting distance from something that’s in your past, God is getting you ready for something yet to come. 

There’s no place you can be or go to that will put you beyond God’s reach.  When you’re not giving God a second thought, God finds you and speaks purpose and direction into your life.  The challenge of everyday is simply being ready to hear.

 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up the heavens you are there.  If I make my bed in the depths you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Amen. (Psalm 139:7-10)

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