Right Where I Want You
by Keith Giles
(NOTE: This article is exercepted from my forthcoming book "The Power of Weakness")
Chapter 5 - MOSES
He was the chosen one. Pulled miraculously from the river by the daughter of the Pharoah, this promised messiah grew up among royalty. He had the best education possible in the greatest Empire of his day.
If the rest of this story were up to us, we'd probably have Moses assume the throne of Egypt through some Shakespearean tactic or strategic maneuvering and, voila, the oppression of the Jews would have ended as Moses took political power with the crowd cheering him on.
Moses himself probably assumed this was where things were going to end up. Why else would God have allowed him to be found and raised by the daughter of the King if it wasn't to have him use his influence to gain political favor for his people?
God had a different plan for Moses' life, however. One that would take him through the desert and strip him of his power, favor, wealth, influence and authority, leaving him with nothing more than a curled walking stick and the simple clothing of a common shepherd.
WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG
In the beginning we meet a young Moses who is impulsive, presumptuous and headstrong.
Moses reveals his arrogance when he attempts to take control of his own destiny, as he understands it, and takes the life of an Egyptian soldier in the process of settling a simple dispute. In his own strength, Moses demonstrated how easy it can be to get in God's way.
Failing to successfully liberate even one Jewish man from a street-side argument, Moses is soon wandering in the desert alone, thirsty and disillusioned. He's almost nearly where God wants him to be.
CHANGE OF HEART
As Moses begins to let his assumptions die, God slowly unravels His plan for how Moses might liberate his people from their oppression. Again, God's plan isn't thrown off by Moses. God's plan, all along, was to have Moses rescue his people through a demonstration of God's power, and the weakness of Moses would have to be revealed before anyone, especially Moses, could recognize that power.
After forty years in the wilderness, a smaller, more humble Moses encounters God for the very first time. When he is given the call to return to Egypt to rescue his people from their slavery, it's the heart of Moses that is revealed when he responds, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
Now we see a changed man. Moses has lost his youthful bravado. He no longer believes that he has the big red "S" on his chest. He's older, wiser, and more humble now. You can almost hear God saying to Himself, "Ah! Now he's right where I want him."
God's answer to Moses is simply, "I will be with you."
GRACE TO THE HUMBLE
It's no coincidence that God came to call Moses to this task at a time when this man's heart was humble and soft. It's no coincidence that God's Word assures us that, "God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the humble."
If we're truly wise, we know that we don't ever want God to be opposing us. To tangle with a being like God is to play with your own eternal destiny. However, the good news is that Grace is freely available to the humble, the weak, and the sincere of heart.
When you see a person who is supremely confident in themselves, ready to take on the world, you know that there's a disaster coming soon. "Pride," God tells us, "Comes before a fall." (Proverbs 3:34)
Before God humbled Moses in the wilderness, he was on his way to becoming a powerful, headstrong, failure. With all the political power at his disposal, with all the influence of the Egyptian Empire, Moses' story would no doubt have had an entirely different ending. Moses may have ended up with a legacy more akin to that of Samson or Solomon than to the events we see recorded in Exodus.
MILD AT HEART
The truth is, the best a man can do is the best a man can do, and in the end, that's not very much. One of the most amazing truths I have discovered is that the person who waits for God to fight his battles is far more influential than the one who takes matters in his own hands.
It's more popular today to talk about men being adventurous and created for battle than it is to suggest that a real man's character is more like that of Jesus, who turned the other cheek and stressed love and forgiveness for enemies, rather than violence.
The man who follows the example of celluloid heroes like John Wayne or "The Gladiator", is in reality a very small person. The man who acts aggressively, who confronts the bully in the school-yard, or the work place, or lays down the law in his own home, is only able to hold influence over those within his own limited grasp.
Using his fists, or violence or intimidation, such a person might appear, at first, to be a natural leader, a hero, or a "Real Man". While this "Man of Action" might be the king of his castle, the most feared person at work, and win the admiration of those other men who personally love him because of his "take charge" attitude, the truth is, according to God's Kingdom, such a man is no different than the pagans around him. "If you only love those who love you, what credit is that to you?" Jesus asks in Matthew 5:46.
Not only is this kind of person small, he is also in direct opposition to all that Jesus stood for. The Gospel that Jesus came and died to proclaim was the Gospel of the Kingdom. He proclaimed that it was to be entered by way of obedience to God. "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of God, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt 7:21).
THE LOST ART OF FOLLOWING JESUS
For many of us, the words of Jesus seem to be for another place and time. We can hardly imagine anyone living by the commands of Jesus on a daily basis. What good could it possibly do to turn the other cheek when we're assaulted? Or to hand over our wallet to the thief who wants to steal our Ipod? Surely Jesus doesn't actually expect us to put these insane ideas into practice? Maybe these are meant to illustrate a delicate matter of theology far removed from actual life? But, then again, maybe not.
Jesus very simply called people to follow Him. This meant, in a very practical sense, living a life here and now where we put His words into practice in our actual lives.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." - Matthew 7:24-27
Over and over again Jesus makes it plain that the one who loves him is the one who does what he says:
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." - Jesus (John 14:15)
"You are my friends if you do what I command"- Jesus (John 15:14)
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." - Jesus (John 14:21)
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching."
- Jesus (John 14:23)
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.."
- Jesus (John 15:10)
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."
- Jesus (John 14:24)
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven"- Jesus (Matthew 7:21).
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
- Jesus (Matthew 28: 19- 20).
The rest of the New Testament continues to echo this idea that to be a Christian is to be one who puts the words and teachings of Jesus into practice"
"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him." - 1 John 3:21-22
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).
"Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them."
- 1 John 3:24
"This is love for God: to obey His commands." - 1 John 5:3
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands."
- 2 John 1:6
WHO WEARS THE CROWN?
So, a person who chooses to live their life by the words of Frank Sinatra, "I Did It Myyyyy Waaayyyy", cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus is clear on this point. We cannot wear the crown and still maintain that Jesus is our King. Either Jesus is the King, and we are humble, obedient servants of His Kingdom, or we wear the crown and then we can do whatever we want. But we cannot have it both ways. We cannot be humble and obedient, while at the same time kicking butts and taking names in order to impose our own territorial empire.
"This, then, is how you should pray...'Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'" (Matt 6:9-10) It's God's Kingdom that must come to earth, and it's God's will that must be done here as well, not our own.
Where is real power? Where is real influence? Even taking a look at our own human history we can see that the greatest among us, those who stand head and shoulders above the rest, are those who stood for the least and defended the oppressed.
The person who chooses to turn the other cheek like Jesus, or to love instead of to fight back like Ghandi, or to heal instead of condemn like Mother Teresa, or to march instead of to take up arms like Martin Luther King Jr., is the sort of person who is able to influence entire nations and to inherit a legacy that will live beyond the grave and inspire others to do the same.
What sort of person do you want to be? Do you prefer to rule by your own two hands? Do you feel more at ease when others tremble before your influence and power? Or do you long for a life that inspires others to do great things?
THE GIFT OF WEAKNESS
When Moses is finally called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, his response is that he has a weakness which inhibits him. He complains that he is "slow of speech," yet God's answer to him is most revealing; "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him site or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (Exodus 4:11)
According to God, in this passage, the weaknesses we have are given to us by God. He created Moses with a speech impediment. Why would He do that? Perhaps so that Moses would learn to lean on God, and not on himself, when it came to speaking to the people and to Pharaoh?
Moses was a man who, with God's help, was able to realize the true secret to power through humility, and his own God-given weakness. We also can learn to find the power of Christ at work in us when we submit ourselves to God, lay down our agenda, and simply say "Yes" to His perfect plan for our lives.