Understanding and responding to the call of God can be a scary and frustrating experience. Sometimes I think it would be easier if we could just get a text message or email from heaven. What I do know is that His calling shouldn’t cause anxiety or fear, but will be accompanied by God’s peace and reassurance that He’s taken care of the details.
Moses had a big heart with big plans and desires. He wanted to rescue his own people. This was a God given dream. He hated how the Egyptians were treating Israel. So to grab hold of his destiny, he took the first steps to getting where he needed to be. When an Egyptian taskmaster is beating an Israelite, Moses kills him.
We get excited and passionate about the future, but the tendency is to get going immediately because we’re naturally impatient. We take matters into our own hands and do it in our own way. This leads to disaster. “he…buried him in the sand.” We can’t bury mistakes. We have to learn from them. Chuck Swindoll says of Moses, “Neglecting to ask God’s counsel, neglecting to seek God’s timing, you step in to handle things. And by and by, you’ve got a mess on your hands. You’re stuck with a corpse, with a shovel in your hands and a shallow grave at your feet.” Moses’ motivation was noble and right but his timing and methods were wrong. His plans didn’t match up with God’s. He did not see himself as a murderer but as one striking the first blow for the freedom of God’s people.
We panic when we encounter opposition, question God, wander, grow disillusioned then run from the call. This creates the burden of a broken dream. “I’ve failed. God has abandoned me.” As he flees to Midian, he grows content, learns a lot, but has no defining purpose because he left it in Egypt. He also carried a rejected, bruised, or even bitter spirit. He names his son Gershom which means “alien” or “sojourner.” He settled for a different calling instead of “deliverer.”
He reaped the exact opposite effect. Instead of moving into his calling, he had to wait even longer. I believe wholeheartedly that this mistake set the stage for insecurity later when Moses encountered God on Sinai. Who argues with God? But his low self-esteem and past failures prevented him from recognizing and embracing what was to be the fulfillment of his dream. Again, it was according to his timing, not God’s. Fortunately, he agreed.
Things worked out…but was that God’s best? The process in Midian was well worth, but it put the call on hold. It caused him to STALL. God is a god of opportunity. When we mess things up, He can and does work out an alternate route so we can still be blessed. But that makes the journey rougher, longer, and more frustrating.
Spiritual victories are not accomplished by human methods. Timing is VITAL. God may delay certain things because we’re not ready.
- Moses vied for authority and leadership. God wanted to orchestrate that but Moses jumped the gun.
- God promotes and validates us, not people, not ourselves.
- He was raised in the house of Pharoah. While he was an Israelite, he still had the benefits of being royalty. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). We have no idea how that may have worked to his advantage. Even Joseph, locked up in the deepest dungeon, was promoted to the 2nd highest position in Egypt.
He didn’t learn it completely though. Years later, we can still see this independent, survivalist flaw. They were running low on water. People began to complain. So, Moses did what any good leader would do. He prayed. As Moses sought direction from the Lord, God said, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink” (Numbers 20:8-9).
Sounds like a plan. So, Moses gathered the people, took the staff, and struck the rock twice. Water gushed out, and everybody drank to their heart’s content. It was a great leadership victory…almost. There was just this little issue of following God’s command.
Why did Moses strike the rock, twice, when God said to speak to it? Because he had done it that way before. Earlier on their journey, when the people cried out for water, Moses had struck the rock and water came out. Since that worked so well in the past, he figured, “Why mess with success?” Unfortunately, God saw things a little differently. “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (Numbers 20:12).
This doesn’t seem fair. After all Moses had done to lead his people out of Egypt, then spending 40 years wandering in the desert with this cantankerous lot, now he would be denied the satisfaction of setting foot in the Promised Land. God doesn’t care about our accomplishments. He desires our obedience. That’s the fruit of having a face-to-face relationship with the Almighty. The longer we spend with God, the more we realize our desperation for Him. The more we’re desperate for Him, the fewer man-made solutions we’ll come up with.
Ask Sarai what helping God’s plan along can do? Arabs and Jews five thousand years later?