Learning from the Life of Moses
The only thing consistent in life is change. Some people live for change. Other people dread it. Regardless of how we feel about it, it’s guaranteed to happen. It’s unavoidable. Life is in a constant state of flux, and the normal for today is never guaranteed to be the normal for tomorrow.
Just think of Moses—one day rocking in his mother’s arms, the next rocking down the river in a miniature homemade boat. One day he was enjoying the good life in the Pharaoh’s palace, the next day a murderer and fugitive hiding in the desert. Settled down with a wife, got comfortable in his shepherding business and then what happened? He was uprooted and sent on a mission from God to challenge the very establishment he had been hiding from. His life was destined for change.
As church leaders, not only do you have to deal with change in your own life, you also have the responsibility of helping your congregation deal with change as well. Whether it’s introducing a new curriculum to your Sunday School teachers or welcoming a new baby into a family, whether it’s explaining the need for a new venue for services or helping a family move into a new home, whether it’s planning a new budget or preparing for a funeral, every part of life is subject to change. And, let’s face it, for most people, change just doesn’t come easy.
In 1967 psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe did a study to help determine how stress in a person’s life might cause illness. Stress factors were measured for 43 life events that might occur in a person’s life. Surprisingly, some of the factors that were listed were “good” events. Right there among death of a loved one or loss of a job were events such as marriage and pregnancy, gaining a new family member and vacation and Christmas. Not all change is bad, but it is safe to say that all change causes stress to some degree or another.
So, what lessons can be learned from the life of Moses that might help you deal with and prepare your congregation for the inevitable changes of life?
Go with the Flow
Sometimes change comes by no fault of our own. Moses didn’t ask to be dropped in the Nile. He didn’t do anything to induce the events of that day. They just happened. They were out of his control. And sometimes that’s the case with us. Sometimes changes will happen regardless of our actions and in spite of our attempts to maintain the status quo. Accidents happen, natural disasters occur, people get sick and die, jobs are cut—and many times it’s by no fault of our own. Those are often the hardest changes to deal with, because when bad things happen we want to point a finger. But what did Moses do? The only thing a baby boy floating down the Nile in a basket could do—nothing. And sometimes that’s all we can do as well. Sometimes it’s best to just “go with the flow.” As an infant, Moses was totally dependent on the adults around him, just as we are totally dependent on the Lord. Don’t worry. He promises in Deuteronomy 31:16, “Be strong! Be fearless! Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the Lord your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and He won’t abandon you.” So, if change seems to be pulling you under the tide of life, lay back, keep your head above water and hang on. God won’t leave you in the Nile!
Don’t Waste Time in the Desert
When Moses decided to take matters into his own hands and kill an Egyptian, it set off a chain of events that changed his life forever. No longer would he be welcome in the palace, no longer would he eat at Pharaoh’s table. But it was his choice, his actions that initiated the changes. In the course of our life, we too will make decisions or take actions that will lead to changes. We will choose to go to college, get married, have children, get a job, quit a job . . . The list goes on and on. And with every decision comes a change, sometimes exciting, sometimes scary, often both. So, how do we face those changes that we inspire? Should we, like Moses, run and hide? Despite the fact that many times we feel like doing just that, it’s better to stand up and take responsibility. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Face change head on. The positive thing to remember is that if your situation doesn’t change again, before long it will be the status quo.
Answer the Call
It may be that, like Moses, we have grown accustomed to the task at hand, that we are comfortable doing what we are doing, that we are just fine with the small ordinary changes that life offers. It is then that God sometimes throws us a curve ball. He asks us to do the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar, the scary. He asks us to step out into the unknown towards a greater purpose and plan that we cannot yet see. How will you respond? Will you allow the discomfort of change to prevent you from following the Lord’s plan for your life? We read in Proverbs 19:21, “Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will succeed.” We can rest assured that like Moses, God will equip us for the task at hand and be with us all the way. The best plan is always to follow God’s plan.
Change is rarely easy and often unpleasant, but we can be reminded of this. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can endure all things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” And, Romans 8:28 says, “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Those two promises, along with countless others in the Bible, are sure to bring us comfort, security and hope in the course of a life full of change.