Be Like Moses and Get Comfy With The Desert (Part 2)

By Jon

Welcome to “Be Like Moses” Part 2, the second in a series of blog posts about the life of Moses. My name is Jon. I was inspired to write a few posts about the life of Moses while reading through the Bible this year with other MoveIners.

In case you missed it: in Be Like Moses and Try to Do the Right Thing (Part 1), we met Moses at a moment of decision. He was born an Israelite, but up until this point he was living as a grandson of Pharaoh in Egypt. One day, he decided to risk his position as Egyptian royalty by standing up for an Israelite slave.

We saw how it ended. Moses had good intentions, but his help was rejected by the Israelites. On top of that, Pharaoh caught wind of his rebellion and threatened to have him killed. Moses had to run.

From there, we jumped to the happy ending of the story: the part where God noticed Moses’ attempt to do the right thing and called him back to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. That was it. God is good, case closed. Be like Moses and try to do the right thing.

But in the process, we left Moses way behind. While we were skipping to the highlights of his life years later, Moses was stuck in a living nightmare.

In this post, we’re going to join Moses back in the desert. Back in the daily unknowns, uncertainties, and fear. And if we’re honest, back where we might find ourselves most of the time as MoveIners. Hopefully, we’ll be able to follow Moses’ example, successfully make the long journey back to Egypt, and someday free God’s people ourselves.

That first day must have been a blur.

An early warning from a sympathetic Egyptian official. A dizzying thrill of dread, giving way to panic. Maybe Moses had a chance to go home and pack a bag of supplies. Then, he was on the run from Egypt.

Temples and pyramids turned to peasant homes. The run turned into a jog, into a slow walk through burning sand. The shadows grew longer.

Somewhere along the way, searching for water and food. Planning to find shelter. Stiffness and exhaustion settling in. Finally, staring shell-shocked into a small fire.

Maybe it wasn’t until he stopped for the first night that it started to sink in. Everything he had enjoyed and looked forward to his entire life was gone. The security and comfort of royalty, gone. The chance for education and political power, finished. All because of one decision to stand up against injustice.

Waking up the next morning, a moment of disorientation before it all came rushing back. Packing up slowly, back on the road. The first day of the rest of his life.

Days turned into weeks. Moses couldn’t let it go. Surely he could find the right person to talk to and clear this up. The scenario ran repeatedly through his head as he traveled. One by one, he ruled out his options for somehow sorting things out back in Egypt. There was no going back, so he just kept walking.

Seven hundred kilometres later, Moses caught a break. He stood up for some mistreated shepherd women at a well in Midian, and they invited him home for dinner. Their father decided to take a chance on this Egyptian stranger and Moses was once again employed.

As weeks turned into months, Moses’ disbelief gave way to dull bitterness. How was it possible for both the Israelites and Egyptians to react so negatively? Why on earth did a fellow Israelite have to leak the news that he killed an Egyptian? And always circling back to the biggest question of all: where was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he had heard so much about?

The months turned to years. Moses gradually built a new life for himself in Midian, but God was still nowhere to be found. There was no voice from the sky like in the stories he had heard, no unexpected guests. Finally came the quiet acceptance. Moses knew he had tried to do the right thing, and at the end of the day he could live with that. If he had the chance, he would do the same thing again. Maybe Moses even began to suspect that God was working in ways that he would never fully understand.

One way or another, here at the end of the post, we find Moses still in the desert exactly where he started. Humbly working as an anonymous shepherd in Midian. The wind and sun weathering his skin and clothes a bit more every day.

Moses’ experience may very well resonate with every MoveIner reading this post, and everyone else trying to do the right thing. Steps of faith followed by devastating setbacks. Worthwhile initiatives leading to complete dead ends. Questions with no easy answers, or no answers at all.

God could move powerfully at any time. Or, weeks could turn into months into years. Our deepest desires could go unfulfilled. Injustices we are fighting could continue.

At times like these, maybe the best we can hope for is to come to the same quiet acceptance as Moses: that we’re trying to do the right thing, and God is at work in the process. And that we’re slowly becoming the kind of people God can use to free his people from slavery.

There is one thing we know now that Moses didn’t, though. We know that God saved his people once before, and he has promised to save them again.

That’s where we’re going next. May God help us put one foot in front of the other until then. Stay tuned for Part 3.

In the meantime, Be Like Moses and Get Comfy With The Desert.