Most of us would say that we want to truly experience God in a real and meaningful way, that we want God to actively work in and through us, and that we want to be effective for the kingdom and for His purposes.
We often hear that when we are following God, things will be great! There is a misnomer that following God faithfully will lead to a good, successful, comfortable life; that we will be blessed financially and physically because of our devotion and faith. Yet the Bible clearly shows that when God chooses to work in us, it might not look at all the way we expect. Things may not get better at all, but they will likely get worse. Much worse. At least initially.
Moses experienced God working through him in unprecedented ways. Moses was fully devoted to God, and many of God’s miracles were performed through him.
Among the most important events of the Bible are those that occurred under the leadership of Moses. It was through God’s use of Moses that the people were brought up out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery and into the Promised Land. Throughout the Old Testament we are reminded that God is, “the God who brought you out of Egypt”. Through Moses came the Law, and the leadership that was needed to forge the Israelites from a group of slaves into a strong nation. The fact that God was working through Moses is unmistakable.
At least it is to us. But what about to Moses? Did he see it as clearly?
To the eyes of Moses, before the victory there were just a string of failures.
In Exodus 3 we read of how God reveals Himself to Moses at the burning bush. He gives Moses a set of instructions, and Moses sets out for Egypt, doing everything exactly to the letter as God instructed him to do it.
But even though Moses has the details, which were personally delivered and confirmed from God, Moses…fails. Moses does everything perfectly and NONE OF IT WORKS. Pharaoh does not let the people go, but instead hears what Moses has to say and then makes their lives worse.
This is the ‘Moses’ pattern of faith: Things are bad – Moses trusts God – things get worse.
Moses returns to the LORD and says, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” –Exodus 5:22-23
Have you ever felt this way? Are you doing all God is asking of you and it seems as if God is not helping at all? Does it seem that following God is causing you more trouble than before?
This went on for Moses for the rest of his life: it wasn’t until after plagues, and extended miseries upon the people and wanderings through the desert that God accomplished what He promised.
It doesn’t seem fair. We ask God to open doors, and they all slam in our face.
We ask God to speak through us, but when he does no one listens.
We ask God to give a sign, but when he does no one believes it.
When we leave what is comfortable, what is familiar, what is easy, what is convenient, what is stable, what is normal and what is ‘American’ in order to follow God, we will not likely be met with success, wealth and victory, but with failure, pain and uncertainty.
At least for a while.
Even our friends may begin to question whether we ever really heard from God in the first place. Then we begin to question it ourselves.
Don’t forget that even Moses also questioned it.
Yet, what matters is not how we feel, what we think, or what our current situation has become. What matters is that we trust God, we remember that there is a plan, we know with certainty that we are loved, we embrace the truth of Christ in a deceitful world, and we recall that at the end of the story, God will indeed accomplish each and every thing that He promised He would accomplish.
God was faithful to Moses and God is faithful to us. God was working in ways Moses and the people could not see. God had a plan and a method of fulfilling His promise, but the journey would not be easy.
It never is.
Yet God’s promise is unshakable, and His covenant unbreakable.
When we step out in faith and obedience to follow Christ, we can expect that he will strip away all that we trust in, all that we rely on, so that He alone can be glorified in us.
Yet when the deliverance comes (and it will) there will be no doubt that it was the work of God in us. His work in Moses took a lifetime, and His work in you might take a lifetime as well. When God accomplishes His purpose, no one can question who it was that performed the miracles, who parted the waters, who rescued His people, and who fulfilled His promise.
When we do what is right, we already have the victory. God brings it about in His way, and because His way draws us closer to Him, and causes us to rely on Him, we will come out on the other side thankful for each and every moment of it.