I’m reading Exodus devotionally these days, and I am coming to like Moses even more than I did before. Not because he was so brilliant or courageous a leader—his stream of lame excuses for not accepting God’s commissioning were not his finest hour (see Exodus 3-4)—but his life illustrates a lot about how God does his work through us. First, Moses is born into a world where infanticide is official imperial policy. His mother saves his life with some courageous concealment and then there’s the amazing basket-in-the-river stunt. He then is pampered as a royal prince and brought up as though he were the pharaoh’s daughter’s own son. It was probably in the royal court that he became literate, utilizing the new Egyptian technologies of pen, ink, and papyrus.
Then at age 40 he prematurely tries to play the role of Hebrew avenger. He murders an Egyptian, serving as his judge and executioner. He flees for his life and ends up grateful to be in witness protection among Jethro and his fellow Midianite bedouins. He marries and has a family, figuring probably that he will never see his fellow Israelites again. God lets him slow-cook for four decades (yes, you heard me—four decades!) and then decides he’s ready. Moses is summoned to a bush that burns but is not consumed.
Do you see a pattern here? God has an amazingly long view of history. He let the Israelites swelter in the heat of oppression while Moses was learning the humility of making a living through animal tending. We are always in such a hurry, quick to complain and quick to find fault with God for not caring and acting on our timetables. I must say that it is a pleasurable feature of aging that even as I lose physical strength and quickness, I am learning serenity and a more complete trust in God’s slow-cooking ways. He always gets it right in the end; we just need to cut him some slack and trust that his long view is truer than our brief snapshot.
Where I really have changed over the years is in patience with people who seem to have fallen from faith or rejected the faith of their parents. I think one of the secrets is to love people unconditionally, listen to what they say, stay with them, keep the lines of communication open, and realize that it may take God four decades to soften their skulls. Sometimes God has to use a pretty heavy stick on the side of their heads to get their attention. If we are still hanging around, we can be God’s mouth and embrace.
Are you impatient with God right now?