Recently, I was reading a part of the book of Exodus and I was struck by the difference between the Moses of Exodus chapter 2:11- 14 and the Moses that led the Israelites until Deuteronomy 34.
As we all know, Moses was born to descendants of Levi during a time when Israelite baby boys were killed. He was saved by the daughter of Pharaoh and lived the life of an Egyptian prince even though he’d been raised by his Israelite mother until he was seven years old.
By the time he was forty years old, he was an arrogant, impulsive and stubborn Prince who was used to getting his way and wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate anybody who stood in his way.
In Exodus 2:11 and 12, he saw an Egyptian oppressing a Hebrew- one of his own people and he killed him without second thought or remorse. He had a stutter and didn’t have the inclination to explain himself, he’d rather act first.
At the age of forty, he was definitely vibrant and bold enough to take on Pharaoh and lead his people out of bondage. However, if he had led the Israelites through the desert at that point, he’d have killed all of them.
Not that they wouldn’t have deserved it, those people were more difficult to deal with than a houseful of monkeys. They complained about EVERYTHING, from water to food to vegetables and even about God, they could try the patience of any saint.
How did Moses manage to lead them without incident? How did he even survive taking them through the desert for FORTY years without killing them all (I know I would have)? The answer lies in Exodus 2:16 to Exodus 3:1. He became a shepherd and led sheep for FORTY years.
I felt shivers in my spine when I realised that if Moses hadn’t spent those forty years in the bush, away from the centre of things, leading sheep day after day. He wouldn’t have fulfilled his ultimate destiny, carried out the mission for which he was created- to lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land. I’m sure he must have wondered why he was going through the forty years in the bush, he must have known that his destiny was to liberate his people then why was he there with the sheep?
Aren’t we like that too? Grumbling and feeling depressed when we aren’t achieving the milestones that we expect to, comparing ourselves with others even when we do not know the journey that has been set before them? Jesus completed his ministry in less than four years and had less than two hundred people under his authority while Moses had a ministry that spanned forty years and had to lead over a million people through seas and deserts and through fire and rain. Is it any wonder that Jesus stepped into his destiny at the age of thirty and Moses had to wait until he was eighty.
Finding yourself in a path that doesn’t meet your expectations is not a reason to fall into a long depressive spell, it’s only natural that you won’t be happy about it but don’t let it define you. While you’re off the beaten path, even in the ditch; find reasons to smile, touch lives positively as often as you can, gather the skills available for you at that point. Who knows, it might just be what you need when you get to your destination.