I am writing to you as though you are sitting here in the room with me. My husband has turned up the radiator in my bedroom, and instructed me not to go downstairs. At last check the boiler was barely kicking out 59 degrees because of the subzero Wisconsin weather but we’re cozy here, and warm. I’ve made tea.
I was just wondering…have you ever experienced the harsh opposition that can follow a period of fruitfulness surrounding your work? A period of growth maybe, a promotion or an award? You were lifted up only to be pummeled by unexpected resentment followed by what seemed like an endless period of oppression? Leaving you questioning yourself and God? It can shake you to your bones. Maybe a person can withstand the battle front for a few years but with continued attack, confidence begins to erode. Mine did.
Leading with shaken confidence can make you susceptible to what I’ve mentioned before: wavering trust fueling affirmation seeking in others. It’s the slimy pit, one step in and down, down, deeper down you slide.
I started a new Once a Day Bible (for leaders) plan on January 1 and today, read in Exodus 3 how the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful and multiplying greatly. Then a new king to whom Joseph (you know, the one with the coat of many colors) meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. (Notice, this king’s name is never mentioned. Exodus 3: 7, 8) He didn’t fear God. But he did fear the Israelites’ strength and the seed of opposition bust open as he feared they would become even stronger and fight against him. So begins the battle. The opposition may seem powerful and mighty, but they are operating out of fear. Remember this.
God watched. The greater the oppression, the stronger the Israelites became until they were dreaded, and the Egyptians made the lives of God’s people bitter and harsh—like people can make ours, sometimes if they’re not threatened, but even more so if they are.
The midwives, whose names are mentioned—Shiphrah and Puah—charged by the king to kill the Israelites’ newborn sons in order to control the population, feared God and did not follow the king’s orders. God was kind to them, they are mentioned here by name, and His people grew even stronger.
I think about how many times I have focused on my fear of the opposition instead of God and hid. But as He did with Moses (Hebrew for draws out), God draws us out of our hiding and calls us by name. Moses, Moses (insert your name here), He said, I am concerned about your suffering and have come to rescue you and bring you out of it and into a land flowing with milk and honey.
As He calls on us today to step forward to help bring others out of their oppression will we say, Here I am? And will we also question, like Moses, our ability, but hear amidst the clutter in our heads and hearts, God’s Voice speak into us, I Am with you.
I was a lost sheep (Matthew 18:10-14). He knew me by name, waited patiently. He came to me, cared for me, pulling me into His arms, forgiving me, teaching me in His own time about His love and mercy, and counseling me, so like the Psalmist, I too can say, “even at night my heart instructs me. I will not be shaken and my body will rest secure. (Psalm 16:7-9) Then He can make known to us the Path of Life—the path for our lives, and fill us, too, with joy in His Presence.
He doesn’t remind us of how long it took us to arrive at this place with Him, all the years of preparation to serve in a role of Godly leadership, but, He emphatically and repeatedly assures us of His courage-building, never-failing Presence. Bill Perkins (Joshua 1:5-9)
In my own struggle to embrace this, my sinfulness—disobedience, pride, weakness—has created a longstanding steady stream of an underlying sense of unworthiness. I see others as more reputable, more polished, more faithful, and know that buried deep within me has remained the unruly, invasive seeds of shame ever popping up. Even there, He welcomes me with these feelings of un-worth and whispers into this wounded one, in you I take delight. With great patience, he guides beyond shame, beyond worries over useless things, beyond wounding.
Wasn’t He wounded for us? And doesn’t He show us that it’s the wounded heart that can open the door to His forgiveness so that it can then help open the door for another?