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Friday, May 11, 2018

THE END OF CONTENTMENT & THE BEGINNING OF PEACE


Blogging Exodus 2-3.


Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses. And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”
Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.
So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.
So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.   Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn” (Exodus 2:21-3:3).

Moses had tried, but it didn’t work.

He’d tried to use his education to enlighten his people.  He’d risked his position and personal prosperity as an example of commitment to the cause.  He’d fought for them, killed for them.  He’d believed that if he told them and showed them and sacrificed himself for them then they would listen, and see, and rise up with him to take back their freedom.  Moses had tried to be a revolutionary.


It hadn’t worked.

So Moses left.  He put a (literal) thousand miles  between him and Egypt.  Met a nice Midianite girl.  Got married.  Adopted her dad as his dad.  Quietly took up the family shepherding business.  Had kids.  You know, normal life.  He’d been a son of pharaoh, a prince of Egypt but the whole time he’d been so angry.  In Midian he was old Jethro’s son-in-law, a husband and father, the shepherd.   In Midian Moses was content.

Then Moses was content to live with the man (Exodus 2:21).

Content means Moses didn’t feel like something was missing in his life. He didn’t sense the absence of a greater destiny.  He’d gotten past all that change-the-world, save-my-people stuff.  He was good.  No, really.  Fine as he was.

Then God set a bush on fire.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. . . .  God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses! . . .  Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 2: 2-4, 10).

And Moses told the Lord, “No, thank you.”

The next 29 verses (Exodus 3:11 – 4:17) is Moses making excusing and God refuting Moses’ excuses, until Moses finally says point blank,  “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send” (Exodus 4: 13).

Basically, “Send somebody else.  I don’t wanna go.”

I understand Moses.  I understand how it feels to be genuinely and truly OVER IT. 



You get tired of repeating the same truth to people who say, “Amen” and then live like they don’t know what truth is.   You get tired of pulling all-nighters to figure out solutions for folks who begged you to figure out a solution, but when you offer the solution they say, “Who made you a prince and ruler over us.”   You get tired of fighting Pharaoh for your people AND fighting your people to get them to fight Pharaoh.    When you realize that “your people” ain’t gonna lift one finger to protect you from bankruptcy, stress-related high blood pressure, student loans, strained relationships in your own house, or Pharaoh’s guards ---- then you might decide to put as much distance as you can between them and you.  You might decide to just be husband, father, and local shepherd.  You might not even miss trying to be a revolutionary because you might actually be content. 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).  

But then WHY IS that bush STILL on fire?

Because GOD was not content.

Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.  And God  heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them (Exodus 2:23-25).

600-plus years after the promises to Abraham, God’s people were still His people.  400 years after Joseph, 4 centuries of being addicted to life Pharaoh’s Goshen, 4 generations of forgetting who they were and Whose they were ------ God’s people were still His people.  And the Lord had not given up on fulfilling His promises to His people. 



Your people don’t stop being your people.  


Your calling to your people doesn’t cease to be your calling to your people.

And no matter how genuinely OVER IT you are, the fact that you still draw breath means God is not done with you yet.

When Moses said “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send” it pissed off God. 

So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses (Exodus 4:14).

And God made Moses go back to Egypt ANYWAY. 

They keep calling and emailing you, don’t they?  



You deliberately missed all the meeting and they still want you to work on the project.

Your social media feed, the commercials during your favorite show, that song that made you weep on the way to church, that radio sermon that almost made you pull over on the way to work, even the advice you hear coming out of your mouth to somebody else . . .
I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not (Jeremiah 20:9).

 Now, you understand some things you didn’t before.  Now, you’re not na├»ve about how easy the war will be.  Now, ironically, when you don’t want to lead anymore, you’re ready to lead. 

And yeah, you have reasons and excuses and 29 verses worth of prior engagements and conflicting obligations, but guess what? 

You’re still gonna go.

You’re not going to change God’s mind about your calling.  You might piss God off.  But you aren’t going to change His mind about your destiny. 

For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob (Malachi 3:6).

You still doing what God called you to do is the reason you are still around to do anything.  You might as well accept it.

So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive” (Exodus 4:18a). 

You’ve had your season of contentment on the sidelines.  Now the only place you’ll find peace is back in the middle of the game.

And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”  (Exodus 4:18b). 


If the blog moved you, listen to this message from our Exodus preaching series.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, use this link:  WHEN GOD DOESN'T LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE (audio)


--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
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