Have you ever pretended to be Moses when you were younger? Standing there before the water (gutter stream), arms held high with a staff (tree branch) in hand, holding back raging waters while a multitude of Israelites (ants) crossed through the sea. Maybe you became David facing a giant with a sling and a few smooth stones, or Esther, about to risk your life before the king.
Maybe this wasn’t you as a child, but have you as an adult imagined yourself in the role of a famous biblical character and wondered if you would have made the same choices? What might it have been to experience those “mountain-top” periods of victory or encounter with the power of God?
So, I find myself considering Moses. What was it like to see that bush aflame and then to hear the voice of the living God? What awe was inspired when standing before Pharaoh, lord over the ancient world, and proclaiming judgment upon him, watching God display power through plagues? And what of the adrenaline-junkie experience of walking between walls of water?!
That’s not my life. Mine is much more ordinary, filled with routine and repetition. Over a period of time, one week looks like the next with little to mark its passing save for a seasonal change in weather or holiday celebration. I can begin to wonder what God has for me and if my “adventure” will be coming soon. In this mode I long to have my days filled with experiences rivaling those named in Scripture. Where is my adventure? How can I achieve greatness in life? How can I actualize the skills God has given me, doing something no one else can do? All of this is a longing for significance. And all of this is focused on me.
There was but one Moses. What of the Israelite slaves? 400 years of dust, and mud, and searing sun, and burning muscles, throbbing veins, generational hopelessness and death. Hundreds … thousands … likely millions of Israelites lived and died with not even mention of their name handed down to us. They made bricks, they served their masters, they had children, and they were no more. There was no glory for them, no tales of bravery to be recounted.
The story of centuries of Israelites under Egyptian slavery seems a waste. It’s a depressing thought to consider each individual life, born in slavery and dying under the same. Some were likely gifted as artists, others craftsmen. Some skilled as leaders and statesmen. None of these talents could be fully actualized, having been crushed under the weight of slavery. Whatever dreams might have been, would not see the light of day.
As the story of my life unfolds I can make the mistake of evaluating it by varying measures of success – financial, career, or otherwise. If I choose this path I make one primary and critical error – focusing on myself. It’s easy to take this focus; even our American culture celebrates the importance of the individual.
The narrative of this life, rightly understood, is much larger than the one, starring myself, I often have running through my head. This story is much greater, for it belongs to God. He will accomplish His purposes. I may play a role, but the plot does not pivot because of me. God decides what prominence my character takes; He decides that with infinite wisdom. My mission, should I decide to accept it, is to yield in faithful obedience to the commands of God. He does not hide these, but openly proclaims them in His Scriptures. Though, even these good things can be diversion if I think that through obedience I gain His acceptance and love.
The sun neither rises nor falls because of me. I do not change the seasons, nor do the rains heed my presence. But I do know and rest in this: whatever my lot in life, whatever my accomplishments, whatever my experiences, whatever my trials, God has placed me securely into His family. My significance is born of no other substance than this relationship with Him.