My favorite Bible story is God leading the Israelites out of Egypt through Moses. I love it for a lot of different reasons. One, in terms of plot and flow, it’s an incredible story. I also think there’s a lot that American Christians can learn from Moses – who grew up in luxury and comfort only to be called to people he knew were being treated badly but had little in common with in terms of background. Another reason I love this story is the examples of how we’re to deal with new chapters in life.
Moses deals with various chapters of his life: sin, redemption and God’s calling on his life. Some of these chapters are out of his control.
- His first chapter is when he’s a baby and the Pharaoh commands that all Israelite baby boys be put to death. His mother puts him in a basket in the Nile River and Pharaoh’s daughter finds him. The Princess loves him and arranges for his own mother to care for him until he’s a young boy, then he’s to return to the palace. Moses barely remembers the first chapter of his life because it’s entirely out of his control. Yet, it shapes his whole life.
- The next chapter is as an adult when he sees an Egyptian man beating an Israelite. In a fit of rage, Moses kills the Egyptian man. He’s found out and flees from Egypt. This chapter is brought on by sin. He finds a group of Mideonites in the desert and they take him in. He marries and seems to have a happy, fulfilled life. This chapter comes from God redeeming Moses’ life.
- The next chapter and focus of the story is when God meets Moses at the burning bush and commands him to go back to Egypt and deliver the Israelite slaves. After some arguing, Moses obeys. It’s not an easy chapter of life for Moses, but eventually the Israelites are set free. This chapter comes from God’s calling on Moses’ life.
In each of Moses’ chapter we can find advice for how to handle new chapters of our own lives. My favorite piece of advice is found in the Red Sea. Pharaoh has changed his mind about liberating the Israelites and has begun pursuing them. Moses is trying to decide how to best move from that place. He says to the people “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14) That verse is fairly popular in the Christian world. However, the next verse is overlooked and it’s one of the most convicting, fascinating statements in the story. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground’.“ (Exodus 14:15-16)
Moses was using God’s goodness, love and desire for justice as an excuse to do nothing. God was having none of it. Yes, He delivered them from Egypt. Yes, He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites. Yes, God has a plan for us, and He’ll guide us, but He expects us to move and roll with the punches. Moses’ next chapter was beyond the Red Sea, but for him to reach that new chapter, he had to trust God to work with him instead of for him.
When you face new chapters and uncertainty in your life, it can be easy to say, “I’m waiting to hear on God.” It makes people in church happy and it sounds better than, “I have no idea what to do.” Maybe you really do want to hear from God, and you really want to make Him happy. I want to assure you that God often speaks to His children gently, especially when they are actively moving toward the next chapter of their lives. So, whether you are facing a new chapter in your family, academic path or faith, take comfort in knowing that God is with you. He’ll work with you, but you do need to be willing to take a step of faith.