Someone has called our failures in the faith “Dead Egyptians”. I have my own. I’ve struggled with the things that I have done out ahead of God and His timing. Or worse yet, the times of outright rebellion and insistence upon my own agenda. And I have replayed the scenes in my mind thousands of times. If only I had been more patient, faithful, had worked a little harder, had been a lot smarter. Maybe I wouldn’t have messed up God’s design. Really? Did this somehow catch God by surprise?
Have you ever wondered what Moses was thinking about when he killed the Egyptian who was beating the Hebrew slave? He already knew that they were his people, and that they were being badly mistreated. Somewhere along the way I’ve become convinced that he thought he was fulfilling God’s purpose. What? Yes, he began to recognize his position over the people, and by faith realized that he was going to be their Deliverer. But instead of waiting on God, he took a premature step toward that destiny. Now we might call that “helping God out”, or getting out ahead of God. There is scriptural precedent for this perspective. Look at Father Abraham, and the birth of Ishmael. Here we see the heart of faith discerning a destiny and trying to force the hand of God, looking at a situation through the natural eye and deciding that we had better help God get it right.
I believe that as this truth dawned upon Moses he determined to start the deliverance right then and there. He was highly educated, a man of military accomplishment, and no stranger to command. The only problem was that the troops didn’t rally behind him, and Pharaoh wanted him dead. So he ran away and wandered in the desert, commander of sheep for 40 years. What a Deliverer. He had misinterpreted Gods call, stepped out in the flesh and messed up God’s plan. He was an unmitigated failure.
The bible doesn’t really speak to what he said, did, or thought for those 40 years. He married the daughter of the Priest of Midian, lived in the desert, and worshipped in obscurity. If he was anything like us, he spent those years self-flagellating over having missed God so badly. Perhaps he was in deep depression, with only the sheep and the stars to give him solace. No doubt the failure of those early years lingered, the humiliation and loss deeply scoring his heart. “I heard Him in my heart, I was supposed to Deliver my people, I know it, but how did it come to this?” I think that this failure was the secret to his humility, and the reason that he was later to be used so mightily by God.
Perhaps in my walk I am right where He wants me to be, now. Perhaps you are right where he wants you to be, now. You’re addicted to something, you’ve cheated on your spouse, you’re going through the motions as a Pastor and God seems so very far away. You struggle with SSA, and feel disqualified. You started the race out strong, the wind in your sails, and you roared off with the smell of victory in the air. You turned left when God turned right, and things are a mess. Now is the time for the applied work of failure. Don’t run from whatever it is that haunts you, face it, and offer it to God in humility.
I had seen a little of what God’s plan for my life looked like, where things were headed. But then I took a detour of biblical proportions. It’s taken a lot of time, the wise counsel of good men of God, and the applied work of failure to see that God is large enough, and merciful enough, to be able to take the detour and make it part of the plan. God doesn’t tempt us to do evil, nor does he wink at sin. But He is faithful enough to take all of those wasted years, the wasted potential, the failure, and to bring us to the end of ourselves to where He alone can begin to use us. If we turn to him, are renewed in the mind of Christ, he will restore us.
So, I’m no longer fretting over Dead Egyptians. I just recently gave mine an overdue burial, and am looking back toward the God who will strengthen us by His Spirit.