Monday, February 4, 2008

Off Track for Forty Years

Say the name "Moses" and what comes to mind? Leading the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness to the Promised Land, right? But did you ever notice how much of Moses' life had passed before he even reached that part of his life's story? So was that the whole point to his life? Was he just waiting around to become the man who freed the slaves?

All this came to mind because I've started reading Exodus in my chronological Bible, which begins with the account of the Israelites falling into slavery in Egypt. That, in turn, brings us to the story of Moses.

Awhile back, I was in an online writers' group (not ACFW, the one I'm in now). When one new member introduced herself, she related a number of impressive things she accomplished early in her life. Then she said, "But I killed the Egyptian, so that got me off track for years." There was an immediate outcry from the other members. "What does that mean?" "You killed somebody!"

I had to laugh. I knew what she meant. She made a bad decision, or did something that got her off of that straight path to success. Moses did the same thing. In the opening chapters of Exodus, Moses has lived a cushy life in Pharaoh's palace, but he starts to visit his people, the Israelite slaves. He starts to identify with them. He seems to be right on track to fulfill God's plan. God is obviously about to move, in his life and theirs.

Then Moses gets into a fight with an Egyptian overseer, kills him, and has to flee into the wilderness. He remains there forty years. Talk about getting off track!

Moses was already forty when he killed the Egyptian. Add another forty to that and you come up with the ripe old age of eighty--and there he is, still in the wilderness.

Sometimes lately, I feel pretty old. I work with college students who are younger than my cat. I'm in a new online writers' group, with people half my age publishing multiple books per year while I still struggle for that first contract. It's quite reassuring to me that when Moses was eighty, he hadn't even gotten started on the most important accomplishments of his life. Once again I remind myself that God's timing is so different from mine. If he wants to use me now or thirty years from now, he'll do just that. He can give me the energy, the strength, whatever I need.

Want to bet you're going to be hearing a lot more about Moses?