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.          

Awesome God!

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:19 NKJV

 The Lord sure workethed my patience on this one.

In the spring I noticed it was getting harder and harder to see clearly. The problem was cataracts. Simple to fix. Just have them surgically removed.

Getting the surgery scheduled, however, wasn’t so simple. It wasn’t until mid-October that both eyes were finally done, ending five months of having poor DH drive me everywhere I needed to go. So I thought.

After the surgeries, my vision was brighter, clearer – but still out of focus. The doctor wanted to wait until my eyes were healed up before prescribing new eyeglasses. DH would have to be my chauffeur for another six weeks.

So last Monday, at long last, I went to get my eyes measured for new glasses. Clear vision was just around the corner.

But a funny thing happened before my appointment.

Now, this past summer I began a decluttering project to reorganize my study. Boxes and bins of stuff that need to be sorted through still wait in the dining room.

Sunday afternoon I decided to rid the dining room of one large bin and put the books back on the bookcase shelves. However, not all of them would make the cut. So I asked DH to please bring me an empty bin. I knew there was at least one downstairs.

But instead of an empty one, he brought me one filled with documents, files, check registers, and duplicate checks dating back four to five years. So instead of putting books back on the shelves, I began shredding.

Among the outdated papers, I found an eyeglass case. I have several of those around, mostly empty because you never know when you might need a nice, sturdy case. I was about to drop it in the garbage but put it on my desk instead.

The next morning I got up early to work on my novel before my eye doctor appointment. I spied the eyeglass case on my desk and opened it. It wasn’t empty. It contained a pair of glasses I’d worn at least 10 years ago.

“I’ll take these to the eye doctor,” I thought, “and donate them to his collection of used eyeglasses for Third World countries.”

On a whim, I put them on.

Glory be! I could see! Clearly! Everything was in focus!

I wore them to town, loving every second of seeing clearly what I hadn’t been able to see for months, and had the eye doctor determine the lenses’ strength. When he tested my eyes for my new prescription, he noted the measurements were close to what the old lenses were.

“Do I even need new glasses?” I asked him. “Or can I use these old ones?”

I mean, they don’t look retro or anything, wire frames and all.

“It’s up to you,” he answered.

Well, I’ve been praising the Lord ever since. I mean, He saved me hundreds of dollars.

I imagine God must be chuckling up there.

You see, just the day before I preached a sermon in which I challenged my little flock to trust God for all their needs.

“God has never let me down,” I told them.

But never did I dream He’d provide my new glasses with old ones that I almost discarded.

Only God.

What do you need to trust Him for today?

Dear God, you are just awesome! Thank You for the wonderful surprises You bless me with every day. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Matthew 6:25–33 

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.