“Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” Exodus 1:22
This is how Exodus 1 closes. This is not good. The Israelites are liuving in a land of severe oppression and despair. Can you imagine having a child and hoping for a girl just so your newborn child could live? And this is the scene that Exodus opens to: a woman doing everything wihtin her power to save her baby boy.
When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. Exodus 2:2
Honestly, this is every mother that has ever lived. They all see their newborna nd just know that this one is special. This one is fine. This one will do great things. And it should be this way!
This is the story of Moses’ beginnings–being hidden by his mother so that he isn;t systematically killed. A mother doing all she can to protect what she holds most dear. Sometimes all we can do just isn’t enough. Sometimes things are out of our control. Sometimes we are forced to trust because we just don’t have any other options.
Soon Moses is too large, his lungs to strong to keep hidden. And so his mother does the only thing left to her. She sets him afloat on the Nile. The river meant to be atool for his destruction becomes her only source of hope for his preserving. Despair puts us in curious positions.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Exodus 2:5-6
And so it goes. Moses’ sister has been watching brother float along the river. She appares and asks Pharaoh’s daughter if she should get a Hebrew woman to help raise this child for the princess. And so it goes. God uses the one who represents this newborn’s demise to preserve his life and give him a future.
God does curious things in our despair. God brings hope where we see only destruction. But God must often wait until we are desparate. We are too stubbornto go wuietly or easily until we are broken and hopeless. This isn’t God’s doing, it’s ours. And yet, he is always there, always ready to turn it around when we start to accept that we don’t really have control.
Why is it that we are so reluctant to give up control? So wary about admitting we aren’t pulling the strings? Why must we often wait until we are at our end before we fling all to the wind and simply let God do what God will do?
I’m learning as I grow that we like the illusion of control more than the reality of trust. We love to feel like we are commanding the ranks–be they ever so small–more than we are willing to simply fall in, do what we are told, and see the outsome take shape around us. Control is a big deal to us.
God, however, doesn’t seem to do much with a life bent on controlling itself. Take a minute and run through the people God uses in the Bible. WHich of them had any sense of control over their own future?
“Go to a land I will show you.”
“Okay, which land is it?”
“Never mind for now, I’ll show you when you get there.”
Let’s see…thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, falsely accused, imprisoned…need I go on?
Blinded by God, running here and there–basically homeless–sharing the gospel, imprisoned several times and always on the verge of losing his life.
You get the idea. We love control and God loves to take it from us. It’s how we follow best. It’s how he makes sure we are where we should be. And for Moses’ mother in Exodus 2 it’s the new way of life. Raising a son who should be dead, for a princess that should see to his death, so that he can become a prince of the people he will set free. All because this mother had done all she could and finally left it to God to figure out if there was a way to keep her boy alive.
This is the way of God. This is the way of his followers. Chaos leads to the dynamic. Surrender–even at the hands of hopelessness–opens doors for God to move.
Embrace the chaos, enjoy the unknown, surrender to the new way of living. Following without a parachute. There is no plan B, no re-group sessions. There is only Jesus leading us as we cling to his coat tails because we have no other options.
Let the dead bury their own dead. Life is waiting for us.