Confidence

Moses, obviously.

Vacation Bible School was such a treat last week.  Not only did I get to hang out with awesome fourth graders {I heart 4th graders in case you haven’t guessed…}, but also had the chance to delve into the story of Moses.

Before starting the week, I could only remember scant details of the story….baby in a basket on the water and Red Sea parting.  And frankly {sadly}, that’s about it.

One of the gifts of teaching something, though, is the necessity to know your material.  Trust me, I could give you MANY examples of times I came into the classroom unprepared, and the outcomes of that mistake.  Not always pretty, but often hilarious in retrospect.

One thing that I loved about the week, spent looking into Moses’ story, was the reminder that the memory verses provided.

“The promises of the Lord can be trusted….” ~psalm 12:6a

and

” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  ~joshua 1:9

I had heard both, memorized the Joshua one previously, but when I really began to sift through the curriculum and think about these words in light of Moses’ story, it was eye-opening.

It hit me Monday, as we studied Moses’ amazing story of survival, from birth.  The reality that God protected him, knowing that he had a big plan for Moses’ life.

But making that plan work, required amazing fortitude and trust.  How in the WORLD did Moses’ mom do that?  Seriously….not so sure I could put this guy in a basket and send him off down the river.

How did she let go of that boy and that basket?

And then her amazing daughter, Miriam.  This was a whole part I had completely forgotten.  Miriam was discerning enough to see the gift of the King’s daughter and realizing that she could entrust Moses to her, ensured his safety and care….

Miriam was calm.  She laid out a plan, allowing her Mother to nurse Moses and then….let go of him AGAIN, to allow him to return to the Princess’ care.

On Tuesday, we jumped ahead {time travel, folks!} to the story of the burning bush.  Moses had grown up, becoming a man during his time living with Pharaoh and his family….but stuck to his guns, one day, and due to principle, killed an Egyptian guard who had been mistreating a slave.  Fleeing for his life, he hit the desert and found a new life for himself, tending sheep.

And it was out there, in the desert, that God showed up in a pretty radical way.  Enter bush on fire.

The burning bush.  Alex his wore his fireman boots on Tuesday to get in the mood for this “hot topic”.  God used something pretty extreme to get Moses’ attention…and Moses, like us so many times, responded in fear and disbelief.  When God asked him to do something risky {go back to Pharaoh….yes, Pharaoh, the guy in charge.  The one whose slave Moses had KILLED.}, Moses replied, “please send someone else.”

I love it.  “Please send someone else.”  That is SO my response.  Aren’t we all a little attracted to that answer, knowing there’s clearly more skilled and pulled together folks who can do things with more grace and success???

Luckily, God gave him words and tools and promises of protection.  And God wasn’t joking or messing around.  To get Pharaoh’s attention, God used plagues/problems/irritations.   You name it….frogs, water turning to blood, gnats, flies, boils, hail, darkness, even the death of first born sons.  And despite these plagues, and many back and forth moments, Pharaoh kept changing his mind, not allowing the Israelites to be on their merry way.

Are we not like Pharaoh too?  Can you see yourself in him?  We fight with God.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Relenting, then picking up.  Releasing, then grabbing back.  We truly are no better.

He did finally relent after the last plague and let Moses get the heck of of dodge with the  Israelites.  But…….

he changed his mind….AGAIN.  And sent an army to take care of things.  To bring back his workforce.  It all comes back to power. Fear of loosing it.  Fear of sharing it.  Fear of other’s overtaking you with it.

Even though the situation seemed hopeless and the Israelites were literally and figuratively trapped, God made a way.  A miraculous way.  And this way depended on Moses trusting and stepping out in the midst of fear and uncertainty.  Maybe even feigning confidence as the waves of the Red Sea lapped at his sandals.

God had a bigger plan than the Israelites could even imagine.  Getting them to the Promised Land.  The land of milk and honey {Alex keeps asking about that one….can only imagine the visual he has of what that looks like!}.

To do this, there had to be some destruction.  The Egyptian army went through some rough times, even death.  Check out the upturned chariots and horses in this illustration:

I’m sure the Israelites, while celebrating God’s provision and deliverance, were still shaking in their boots a bit from the whole ordeal {David clearly displays the intensity of this below!}

Despite God keeping his promises, though, and even in light of Moses’ strength and courage, things were bound to get rocky.  They would be forced to rely on God’s provisions {my thoughts on manna can be found here} and Moses’ leadership to make it.

Insert the Ten Commandments.  God had a plan to continue to guide and direct his people, and this plan meant that Moses had to make yet another trip.  This time for 40 days and 40 nights.

While he was gone, the Israelites took things into their own hands—-not that I EVERY do that—and wooooweee, life got a little rough.  Moses came down, ready to share these reminders and “rules” from God, created and inscribed by the very finger of God.  Everyone was ready and willing to give it a go.  And yet, even as hard as they tried, they couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t be perfect.

And so, back to confidence.  On one hand, we are given God.  We are given the very power of God.  And that should inspire confidence.  But the reality is only ONE person, Jesus, would be able to truly live these rules out to perfection.  That can be a cop out for us, but God calls us to more.  To step out, in the midst of fear, lack of confidence, shaking knees, and do our best.  To attempt the impossible….loving God more than anything else.  Not making anything in our lives more important than God.  Honoring God by saying God’s name with love and respect and resting, taking Sabbath.  To respect our parents, not hurt anyone, be respectful to our spouses, always tell the truth and be happy with what we have, not wishing for other people’s things.

It’s a tall, tall order.

I’m guessing, if Moses knew that which was in front of him, he’d had shoren  one of those sheep back in the dessert and used it as a disguise, hoping the burning bush/God wouldn’t recognize him.  Or maybe, if Moses’ mom understood the magnitude of what God would ask of her son when she placed him in that basket, would she have relented and just allowed him to be killed???

All speculation, but it truly comes down to confidence.  Confidence in a God who has a bigger vision and plan than we can even dream up.  Confidence that when we step out in faith, feeling the water at our toes while seeing our own “Egyptian armies” charging from behind, that God will meet us.  Deliver us.  Honor our trust.

The richness of this story and Moses’ life keeps unfolding for me.  I can’t stop the narrative from entering my thoughts.  Maybe that’s because Alex is obsessed with listening to the VBS cd of music CONSTANTLY???  Who knows, but holy cow….let it be a challenge to us all.  A challenge to let God speak into the seemingly hopeless places in our lives.  A challenge to allow him to deliver us and use us in ways we can’t imagine.  And then, not to chicken out, but to tell the story, mistakes, foibles and all.

p.s.  The amazing pictures are thanks to the Jesus Storybook Bible and Read Aloud Bible Stories, volume 4.  Both are fantastic!!!

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