In Midian

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos, photo by gorlovkv

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

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!

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 forty 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 Pharaoh didn’t know God. So Moses 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.

Moses spent the next forty 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.

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 was stupidity?

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. 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.

I’ve already discovered I can’t handle the pressures Moses had when he traded 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 either. Moses blundered and thundered and made both the Almighty and the Israelites angry.

Through the trials, he learned in lean times to lean on God. The leaner the time, the harder he leaned. And he learned 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, the apostle Paul in 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.

Lost Lamb, Panicked Parent

Image by mskathrynne from Pixabay

“In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 15:7 NLT

My two-year-old son was missing. He’d climbed the back of the sofa in the downstairs family room and slipped out of an unscreened ground floor window while I washed windows upstairs and his older brother and sister, who were supposed to keep an eye on him, watched cartoons.

We lived at the edge of a small rural village on what used to be the family farm. Where could he be on this warm, spring afternoon? Traipsing in the acres of woods and overgrown fields? Climbing the high wall, a steep, dangerous cliff left from open-pit mining years ago? Exploring the barn filled with suffocating hay bales or the wagon shed with all its enticing tools and machines? I imagined a small body floating on the pond fifty yards away and felt panic rise like bile in my throat.

The world can be a dangerous place for a curious toddler. Fear clutched my heart and squeezed hard. I called around the neighborhood while Todd and Jaime began searching. A neighbor boy hopped on his four-wheeler.

I can’t remember how long we searched. I only remember praying, pleading with God to help us find him safe and sound. We did—between the back doors of his grandmother’s house next door. She wasn’t home, so no one heard his knocking or answered the phone when I called.

What relief and joy flooded me when they brought him through the door! I hugged him and kissed him and hugged him some more.

There’s nothing worse than not knowing where your children are. My children knew the degree of punishment was proportional to the degree of panic.

Unlike us, though, God doesn’t panic when His children wander off. He always knows exactly where they are and goes after them. Not with punishment in mind, but in love and concern. He knows it’s a mean, dangerous world out there.

And He never forces them to return against their will. Instead, He calls to them gently, softly whispering their names so they hear it deep in their souls. He arranges circumstances to get their attention.

Cecil Murphey, in his books The Relentless God and The God Who Pursues, describes his own wandering and how God sought him, found him, and brought him home. My own Uncle Nick woke up in a jail cell after a drinking bout and found the Shepherd waiting for him. He became a Baptist minister who eventually led several family members to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.

Sometimes God sends others to bring home His beloved children. My friend Melanie wrote a book called The Apostles He Sends, describing how God sent others to draw her back to her faith after more than three decades of running away.

He never stops caring. He never stops loving us. He never stops seeking us when we stray. So whether you or someone you love is the little lost lamb, be assured that God knows where His lost ones are—and He’s working on bringing them home.

Thank You for never letting me out of Your sight, Father, and thank You for bringing me home. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 18:12–14; Luke 15:3–7.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. To use, please contact me @ for permission.