In Midian

Mount Nebo
Photo by Berhold Werner (Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. – Proverbs 19:21(RSV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

Moses—now there was a man who had it all—prosperity, power, prestige. But this prince of Egypt, thanks to his impulsive nature and nasty temper, became a refugee, fleeing for his life in disgrace and fear. Instead of a palace, the wilderness. No longer the proud prince, but a lowly shepherd. Talk about culture shock.

I wonder, as he tended sheep in the godforsaken desert and on the lonely mountainsides of Midian, did he think he was all washed up? A has-been? That the best part of his life was over? How long did it take him to stop missing the splendor, the hype? Did he feel as though he lost his purpose?

Then, after 40 years, Mission Impossible: “And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9–10 NIV).

Oh, right. Like that was going to happen. Moses knew Pharaoh. But he didn’t know God. So he hedged. He made more excuses than a kid who doesn’t want to do his homework.

But man cannot argue with God. Well, you can, but you can’t win. For every excuse once-mighty Moses gave, God had an answer.

So Moses spent the next 40 years leading a stubborn, rebellious, cantankerous nation over one million strong through both a physical wilderness and a spiritual one. It was for this that Moses was enshrined in the famous “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11). He died a great leader with a fame that endures to this day, a fame he never could have achieved as a prince of Egypt. (Other than King Tut or Cleopatra, do you know the name of even one Egyptian royal?)

But I wonder, as he dealt with the constant complaining, the mercurial temperament of a nation whose loyalty and emotions were as fickle as an ambivalent teenager’s, as he quelled rebellion after rebellion, as he wore himself out settling their petty disputes—did he long for the quiet hillsides of Midian, tending to a flock that was undemanding, whose major flaw wasn’t stubbornness but stupidity?

Back in his heyday Moses didn’t want to rule Egypt; he wanted to rescue the Israelites. Right idea, wrong time. Moses needed to spend some time in Midian, in the wilderness classroom, to learn patience and humility. When God saw Moses was ready, He called him to his destiny, his purpose.

Sometimes we find ourselves in Midian, wondering if we’re all washed up, if somehow we missed God’s purpose for us. Or we wonder if we’re being punished. Or perfected. Oh, Lord, I’ll never be perfect! So I wonder if I’ll spend the rest of my life stuck in Midian, in a wilderness where the only attention I get is from needy sheep.

But I can’t handle the pressures Moses had when he traded his sheep for people. But then, everything that happened in Moses’ life had a purpose: to prepare him for the job God had planned for him all along. Moses wasn’t perfect when God called him—or afterwards. He blundered and thundered and made both the Almghty and the Israelites mad.

But he learned in lean times to lean on God. The leaner the time, the harder he leaned. And he learned that where God sends, He also enables and provides.

God hasn’t changed.

If you find yourself in Midian, enjoy the peace and quiet, the absence of strife and chaos. Work with God as He molds you for the job ahead. Then you might wish you were back in Midian.

But, then, it could be your job is Midian.

In that case, take to heart the words of another man who, centuries after Moses, found himself in his own Midian, a jail cell: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11 RSV).

Dear God, if I spend the rest of my life in Midian, help me to be content. Help me to know that You will fulfill Your purpose for me (Psalm 138:8). Amen.

Read and reflect on Exodus 2:1–3:10

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.          

The Priority of the Season

 

“Patience means waiting God’s time without doubting God’s love.” (Our Daily Bread, 3/2/2009)

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 NIV

 

“Obeying God,” I told my husband recently, “isn’t simple or easy.”

I was referring to taking a sabbatical from writing fiction. I didn’t want to do it. I love getting lost in the story, letting the characters carry me away on a journey of their own making. It’s a high like no other, this thrill of writing fiction.

At least it was for my first three books. Then came the elephant – my fourth novel, book two of the PennWoods Mystery series. Like Mama Elephant carries her baby in her womb for two years before giving birth, so too has been the gestation period for Ghost Mountain. Over two years, six partial drafts and more dead ends than I cared to count.

It isn’t that I no longer want to write fiction. I do. More than anything. I miss dancing with the muse. It’s that I’d lost the passion, the excitement for the story. “No tears in the writer,” Robert Frost once said, “no tears in the reader.”

What happened?

Life happened. With all its crises, issues and upcoming changes. Things that take time, energy, emotion, and prayer. Things on which I need to focus before I can move on to pursuing the vision of writing. For now I’m called to lay my Isaac down.

I think of how Abraham felt when God told him to offer his only son – the son he’d waited a lifetime for – to Him as a sacrifice. Sacrifice – giving up something you want for a higher purpose.

Renowned Christian author and speaker Priscilla Shirer had to lay her Isaac down at one point in her life, too. When her sons were born, her priorities changed. Between gigs of traveling the country and speaking to hundreds of women, she changed diapers. She soon sensed God telling her to put the speaking ministry aside for a season.

She obeyed.

In time, Lifeway contacted her: Instead of Priscilla travelling to, say 10 different churches in an area, she would travel to one central location and the women from those churches would come to that venue. Awesome! Less time. Same effort. More people reached with the messages God gives her.

She obeyed God and took a Sabbath from what she knew she was called to do. Then, at the right time, God gave her ministry back to her, better, more effective, more efficient, and allowing time for her growing family. It was like the Israelites gathering twice as much manna on the sixth day in the same amount of time and with the same amount of effort as they did on the other five days because they were not to gather manna on the Sabbath. They obeyed. God blessed them with a double portion.

Essentially God told them, “You honor my Sabbath on the seventh day, and I’ll give you a double portion on the sixth.”

“Focus on the priority of the season,” Priscilla writes in her Bible study Breathe.

The priority of the season. With health and family issues, and DH’s upcoming retirement, life is just too tumultuous right now to focus on writing fiction. I am, however, reading it and studying the craft while I wait for God to open the door again and say, “Now.”

Thank You, God, that You haven’t removed the dream, the desire, to write fiction from my heart. Give me the wisdom to use this time wisely and strength for the wait. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 22:1–18; Exodus 16:21–26

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.