Encouragement in the Difficult Journey
Resting on the roots of an old oak, I leaned back against its knotted trunk to consider the passing of time. Revealed in measured layers, is a quiet discontent. In this particular season, the battle seems to have caught up with me. I wear it in my eyes: the grief, the regrets, and the mountains unmoved. Dark purple circles and wrinkle wings dot the corners of my eyes. Many days I feel small and invisible. Stretched too thin and all used up. There are responsibilities and expectations that dim purpose and passion. I am afraid. I clutch unnamed hopes and dreams to my chest because life is too hard.
In the dusty clefts and crevices of my every day, I have oft turned to the life of Moses. As my journey grew long and arduous, the terrain rough and rugged, I found encouragement in his tenacity and steadfast determination. For Moses, as it has been for me, the middle years of his life represented a loss of vision and passion. Exile in Midian was not exactly what he was expecting. At eighty years of age, he was a has-been, a shepherd leading his sheep in circles around a forsaken desert. Once a young and comely prince was now an old and forgotten shepherd.
Many of us find ourselves in exile of sorts at various points in our lives. For some, it is a wilderness of stress and burnout, failure or illness. For others, it is marked by spiritual crisis and loss. But so often, as was true of Moses in his exile to Midian, the wilderness is also a place of preparation. It is a place of great significance in the shadow of the ultimate purpose.
Moses was a shepherd, in the desert, for 40 years, but God was at work. He was shaping Moses into a man who could speak truth to power. He was preparing him to be the kind of person who could deal with the impatience and the complaints of a newly liberated people. God’s hand was on Moses, especially in the wilderness.
Oh that we might long for the tenacity of Moses as he battles it out with God, rather than giving up when the journey is arduous. That we would pray for the kind of courage and persistence that led Moses to move forward with vision and strength. And that we might recognize the tender kiss of grace that enables us to live with our limitations and imperfections as Moses did. Cling to the words sung by Moses and the Israelites upon their deliverance as you await your own, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength, you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (Exodus 15:13, NIV)
Find yourself in His story.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.