I recently traveled back in time (via my imagination) to the days when there arose in Egypt a king who dealt shrewdly with the Hebrew people – forcing them to expose their infant sons to the deadly current and creatures of the Nile (this bit of lethal legislation coming after many hard years of slavery and affliction …which, paradoxically was part of God’s promise to the great believer of the unbelievable / hope-er amidst hopelessness – our father Abraham!). At this time Moses was born! On the day Moses was to die in the Nile, he was pulled out of the water (i.e. he was Moses’d) by none-other-than the princess of Egypt (the Hebrew-murdering man’s daughter). The princess chose to adopt Moses and bring him up as her own son, and subsequently he was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he became mighty in his words and deeds. When Moses was forty years old, he developed an intense concern for his Hebrew kin, and one day he decided to become an aggressive advocate for his people – using his Egyptian privilege and wisdom, and allocating his mighty words and deeds to the enterprise of a Hebrew revolution (or at least putting up some significant resistance to the appalling centuries-long oppression). Moses intervened while a Hebrew slave was being wronged, and – being mighty in deed – Moses avenged the slave by striking down the Egyptian. Moses supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. On the following day he attempted to play peacemaker as some Hebrews were quarreling, and Moses tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian.
Now, here’s where I began to get VERY concerned and panicked. Because my hyper-rational brain says, “It’s now or never!” It’s been 400 years, and this is the only moment in all that time when the Hebrews have had a man on the inside. And it is a better opportunity than anyone could have ever fathomed! Moses is not “under-cover”, he is an officially adopted son of an Egyptian princess! Moses is a legitimate aristocrat and war hero in the land of Egypt. Never again will the Hebrew people have an advocate like this. Not even the promised Messiah will have such explicit status during His days of sojourning in the land of Egypt! Moses possesses the wisdom and diplomatic wherewithal to act now! Moses is in his prime, and he is poised with both mighty words and mighty deeds to lead the Hebrew nation out of slavery at such a time as this (the “time” being the height of Moses’ might, competency, and power). Logic – on every level – says, “It’s now or never!”
Only if you permit yourself the imaginative journey back to that moment of history will you feel the desperation. Only if you thoroughly and personally envision this story will you feel the panic and dismay of Moses’ flight and exile to Midian. The slightest bit of hope perhaps remains – IF Moses can rebound relatively quickly, and return to Egypt while he’s still in his 40’s, 50’s, or perhaps even his 60’s (e.g. General Patton was pushing 60 at the end of WWII). But then you read the devastating detail, “Now when forty years had passed an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush.” Here we have a man washed-up. He is no longer mighty in word (in fact, he has developed a nasty stuttering problem over the last 4 decades). His confidence is shot – he feels about as antithetical to a man of mighty deeds as you can get. Nowadays he appears completely apathetic to the plight of the Hebrew, and he’d rather just be left to tend his flock in Midian for his remaining years on earth. AND – he’s talking to fiery shrubs (#senile)! This is truly hopeless. The moment and the momentum has been lost. Redemption for the Hebrews is now impossible. The ONLY option at this point would be to choose to hope against hope/believe the unbelievable.
I was extremely ready to boast in the might of Moses back when he was 40! But the great Author of redemptive history seems to prefer a redemption route wherein he severely handicaps his main character with 80 years of age, a stammer, and a diehard reluctance to step into the role he was itching to have back when he was 40. It is as if the Author of the story is saying, “Self-sufficiency is an irreverent and silly myth! …Only My grace is sufficient for you, for My power if made perfect in weakness.”
The great Author and Perfecter of our faith is training us to BOAST! Not the deceitful, demon-doctrine, conscience-searing kind of boasting. But the radically receptive to grace – resolve to boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me – kind of boasting. The when I am weak, then I am strong kind of boasting!