About those 4 decades between Egypt and Egypt.
I used to think that if the Lord was going to use me, he better do it quickly—that my best days and years were right now. That youth was synonymous with usefulness. And that if he waited too long, He might miss His opportunity.
And so every morning, I’d awake and shower. And as the hot water baptized me into the new day, I’d dream. Words to write, food to bake, places to go—I’d dream. And the steam weighed dreams down just long enough for me to grab one, holding onto it for the day—making it my purpose. So focused. So determined. So in control.
But the place I stand looks nothing like the dreams caught before foggy bathroom mirrors. In fact, when that fog clears, and I’m left staring at myself, I’ve find myself wondering if God missed His chance. Or, if I’m honest, I fear He passed me by. Where is He going? Why isn’t He taking me with Him?
I’ve dreamed so many dreams, and know so many beautiful women, that sometimes it looks as though everyone else is living out my plans while I am still face to face with the same woman in the same mirror as her skin creases in a few more places and her eyelids thin ever-so subtly. All I seem to be doing is aging while women all around me seem to be living. And I feel forgotten. What of these yesterdays? How can I make sure they all matter?
So I’ve looked to my children. Surely in those five unique minds I’ll forever be imprinted and never be forgotten. And so I’ve poured myself into raising and shaping these minds—learning their language, unlocking their secrets, nourishing them to potential. But something is happening. It seems the measure of my success is measured by the ability of their flight. It’s both empowering and humbling as I realize that even this season will end with me standing alone—arms outstretched as I send them off into the world. What then, when the task is completed? Who will I be?
So most days, I’m a stranger in my own skin. The life I’ve lived—building day by day—isn’t recognizable. I’m a foreigner in the land of me.
So about those 40 years, Moses? The years between murdering a man and hearing God from a bush. The years when you had a child and named him Gershom—“For I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” Exodus 2.22
It seems to me you named your son the very name you called yourself.
So what am I to do when I am a Gershom—a foreigner in my own skin?
Now Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian…when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. Exodus 3.1
Continue in daily acts of faithfulness:
Moses was looking over the wealth of his father-in-law. The flock wasn’t even his own. So he was in a foreign land, feeling every ounce of foreignness, tending to the wealth of another man.
And it was in this seeming insignificance that the Lord showed up to speak with him.
Excel in the art of a supportive role:
Jethro is the one with a title in this passage—the priest of Midian. Moses is tending the flock because the priest of Midian is disposed of at the moment. There is a supportive role for Moses to play and he does so with excellence. How many mornings had he walked the same path? How many conversations had he had with his animals? How many miles had he walked, contemplating what he was doing out here—how he, the adopted son of a Pharaoh was dodging dung as he led the flock to food.
I wonder if there were times when, several years later Moses—now the leader—was stuck in the wilderness with a flock of humans who complained regularly about food and longed for the days of one-sided conversations with animals?
There is beauty in the supportive role. Peace to think and mental space to simply be. And preparation for the days to come. I doubt Moses imagined that a flock would transform into a nation. He didn’t know to look for something grander or different. He just served those he loved to the best of his ability. And learned essential skills along the way.
Trust that God will be very clear when it’s time to change course.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to him.
Moses wasn’t waiting for tomorrow; he was living today. The same rhythm of ‘todays’ he’d been living for years. So when it was time, it was God who caught Moses’ attention and he didn’t do it in some small way. He sent an angel, caught a bush on fire, and called out his name. This was waving flags.
And so it would seem that—if given the choice between seeking God fervently and living life mundanely—I should choose the ordinary, unremarkable moments, for they are the ones I might miss the most.
That truth states the best years are right now. That my purpose only expires with my last breath.
So while I’m eagerly awaiting the fruit of my purpose, it is easy to forget that fruit signals the end of the harvest. And who doesn’t love the fruitless shade found in long summers?
So I will clean floors and speak words of thanks. I will drive to school and engage in conversation. I will change diapers and tickle the wonder that is humanity. I will fold laundry and marvel at the speed of growth. I will watch the small words, knowing they make a lasting impact. I will invite the forever changing woman in the mirror to become a citizen of the here and now. She’s no longer a woman of future dreams. She’s a liver of mundane moments.
Where I am, I am completely.
Because I believe there will be a day God flags me down and asks me to leave all this ordinary. And by that time, it might feel like home.