Making Smooth Transitions
Visitors to London will be accustomed to the phrase, 'mind the gap!' Played repeatedly on the Underground system, travellers are warned of the danger that exists at the point of transition between the platform and the train.
At some point in life, all of us will make transitions. Sometimes it is as simple as a change from one form of transport to another! Other times it is more complex and carries greater risk and vulnerability: a house move; a job change; choosing to get married; suffering bereavement. Likewise we will make transitions in our service for God. He might move us to a new sphere; He might give us a new scope of responsibility within our existing sphere; He might even change our life circumstances to adjust both our scope and sphere of service. The important thing is that we make 'smooth' transitions. By which I don't mean that we get to avoid the experience of pain, or stress, or a crises of faith along the way, but rather that we avoid the pitfalls that can easily derail us and knock us off course. We are most vulnerable when in a state of change, because human nature dictates that we are prone to being caught up in the excitement and lose sight of the real objective: being where and doing what He wants.
Moses was a man whose service for God was punctuated by two major transitions. One which He made smoothly and another (the first) which he made a mess of. There are interesting contrasts to be seen between the two, that provide us with valuable lessons.
When Moses hit 40 he took a notion that he was going to be the redeemer of his people Israel. 'Big ambition,' you say! But did he have the right to make that claim? Well yes actually, God had obviously marked him out for the job. He was a "goodly child" (Ex. 2:2) and "exceeding fair" (Ac. 7:20); the Hebrew writer tells us he was "a proper child" (11:23), but most importantly "he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (11:24). Clearly Moses had a calling, but what he didn't have was the right timing.
Why was the timing wrong? Surely at 40 years of age he was done with the learning and ready for the doing? Says scripture: "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Ac. 7:22). But the sad reality was that Moses proved spectacularly that he wasn't ready, by the means that he chose. Murder was never part of God's plan of redemption, yet in a fit of temper, he slaughtered an Egyptian taskmaster. Really!? What did he think God's plan was? That he should murder each Egyptian one-by-one and with his bare hands? It's sad that despite the fact that scripture tells us he esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. 11:25), he went about it in totally the wrong way.
But before we get too hard on Moses we should remember that we are all prone to errors in timing. We might not commit murder, but we are known to force issues and take events into our own hands to bring about what we think God's plan is. Before embarking on such a road we should remember to ensure that it really is God's plan, and if so, ask whether it really is His timing? Scripture has a subtle but unmistakable verdict on the matter: "when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren" (Ac. 7:23).
On the back of a colossal blunder Moses was banished to the backside of the desert. Educated in the best global college of the day, brought up as Royal family, but now wandering as "a stranger in the land of Madian" (Ac. 7:29).
Whatever it was that God taught Moses in those wilderness years, it had an impact. When we see him again by he side of a bush, he is a totally changed man, and this time it's God's timing and therefore the call is unmistakable. Says Luke: "the voice of the Lord came into Him" (Ac. 7:31), saying: "I am...God" (7:32), "I have seen...I have heard...I will send thee" (7:34). As God's timing and calling coincided Moses experienced God's leading: "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the King: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27). What a verdict! The man who started so poorly ended so well. He learned from his mistake.
Dear Christian, do you feel a call of God to do something or be somewhere? Learn the lesson of Moses, a call is just the start. Ensure that God has control of the timing and you will know His leading.
Mervyn Hall is in fellowship with his wife in the assembly that meets in Hebron Gospel Hall in Bicester (UK) and is employed as a business consultant to the Healthcare industry.