Holy Training Ground

imagesI’ve been reading through the book of Exodus.  I’ve read 1/3 of the way through the story of Moses.  I want to stop there because I think there are many lessons to be gleaned from the first 40 years of his life.

Firstly- Moses was called from birth.  He was born at a time when the evil Pharoah was slaughtering the male Hebrew children.  God used a cool chain of events to save Moses, bless his family, and set Moses up in the house of Pharoah himself.  Moses grew up with unique insights as a Hebrew in the Egyptian royal family.

I also believe that Moses was blessed with a gift for leadership; which he would need to lead Israel out of bondage and through the desert for 40 years.  We see him having a shepherds heart and leadership skills in Exodus 2.  He witnesses an Egyptian slave-driver mercilessly beating a Hebrew slave.  “Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”  He was acting out his role of deliverer but of out ‘his flesh’.  And things buried in the sand have a way of coming back to haunt you. 

The next day he goes out again as a self-appointed hero and tries to break up a fight among two Hebrew slaves.  One of the men said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”  It had.  Things buried in sand have a way of coming un-buried.  Pharaoh is outraged and wants to kill Moses.

Moses effectively loses everything in one day.  Pharoah was like a father to him.  He had grown up with all the privilege of a prince.  He had a home, a title, an identity.  That was all gone.  I wonder though if the words of his fellow Hebrew stung him the most.  He had been trying to help, doing what he felt God had put on his heart.  I’m sure those words of rejection rung in his ears even 40 years later when God was commissioning him to return as Deliverer.

So Moses runs deep into the desert of Midian.  The desert- God’s preferred training ground.  God provides a mentor in Jethro; the priest of Midian.  Moses starts a new life as shepherd.  He marries Zipporah and starts a family.  Going from self-invisioned hero to a zero wandering in the back of a desert for 40 years.

I think this shows that the gifts of God really shouldn’t be the focus of our life.  Like in Moses’ case- those strengths can become weakness if we act out of our flesh.  We all have gifts and a calling.  Those are inherit in the way God created us.  But we will only use those gifts effectively to the point that we allow God to refine and strengthen our character.

God used 40 years in the desert to turn Moses from an entitled and impulsive princeling to a mature and humble man of God.  The gift of leadership was there all along.  Even when he was ‘just’ leading his Father-in-laws sheep.  He was doing just that when God would appear to him from a burning bush.

All those years of quiet and anonymity had been preparing him.  He knew his way around the desert.  He had learned some things about God that you can only learn ‘in the desert’.  He needed 40 years because God had such a huge call on his life.  The call and giftings ultimately weren’t about Moses at all.  God gives us gifts to help others and glorify HIM. Ephesians 4:12 We will find great joy walking in God’s path for our lives too.  But the vast majority of us need a great humbling and ‘breaking’ before God can use us effectively.  If we all stepped right into a place of huge blessing and anointing our heads would explode with pride.  😉  Sorry, it’s true. The great apostle Paul was one of few to step right into a huge ministry and even he was assigned a ‘thorn in the flesh’ which tormented him all his life and kept him humbly dependent on God. 2 Cor. 12:7

I pray often that God would give me a soft, pliable heart.  We all need to pass through the wilderness, but for goodness sakes- let’s not stay there.  Lets cooperate with the great Potter and let Him mold us in our times of testing and trial.  Jeremiah 18  The more we yield and obey the quicker the trip will be.

It is interesting to me that Moses found God in the wilderness.  God appeared to him at Mount Horeb.  The word ‘horeb’ means waste, wilderness, desert in Hebrew.  That wildness became holy ground. Exodus 3:5  Perhaps God wants to redeem certain impossibly tough areas of our lives as His holy training ground.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
    it will become a place of refreshing springs.
    The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
 They will continue to grow stronger,
    and each of them will appear before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:6-7

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