Prelude to a Fall: The Burden of Potential
He had been born into a place of tremendous potential. His birth was foretold by prophecy. It was said that he would be the one to liberate his people from the weight of their bondage. He had the benefit of an incredible upbringing. Drawn from the water, chosen by God, raised as royalty, instructed in leadership from one of the greatest powers in his world, it seemed like he had everything going for him. If anyone could be said to have potential, it would definitely be Moses.
But then Moses made a mistake. He tried to take back the reigns from God and bring about salvation in his own way. And he failed. Spectacularly.
And so the golden child of both Israel and Egypt found himself in a desert place – literally. An exile in a strange land, Moses humbled himself and accepted a role as a shepherd. He had had a future as a leader of nations but was now a shepherd of sheep. It was quite a comedown. He had made a mistake and was paying the price. It was all over for Moses – he had wasted his talents and God had given up on him.
Or had He?
This scenario sounds familiar. Maybe we weren’t raised in royalty but most of us grew up with some dreams. We had an idea about how our life was supposed to go. We were thrilled when God touched us and we felt that He had something tremendous for us. It was going to be wonderful. We were going to shake the world! Nothing could stand in our way.
But then it happened. Sorrow came. Tragedy struck. Maybe it was something completely out of our control. Maybe we tried to take control of a situation and soon regretted our choice. Whatever the case, life took a turn we didn’t expect and we suddenly found ourselves in the scorching heat amid a bunch of smelly sheep. Or something like that.
And that’s when the enemy begins to whisper. He tells us that God is finished with us. He tells us that there is no hope. He tells us that we’ve fallen too far – even God cannot reach us anymore. And even if He could, why would He want to? Who would want take yet another chance on such a broken life? Because we are still reeling from the hurt, sometimes we listen to him and sometimes we give in to the feeling of defeat. But God knows how to bring fresh anointing from the most barren of places. After all, He prepares tables in the middle of wildernesses and in the presence of our enemies.
Prelude to a Calling
Chapter 3 of Revelation describes a beautiful promise for the church of Philadelphia:
I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (Revelation 3:8, NKJV)
The promise of the open door is exciting — compelling, even. But it is important to note that something comes before the open door. He begins by saying, “I know your works.” In other words, God notices what we do when we’re still in the desert. It is a time of healing and a time to rebuild but it is not a place to sit idly by hoping that one day things will magically happen for us. God saw the works of His church and decided to usher them into something new.
But what works does God expect of us when we’re waiting at the threshold? In the case of Philadelphia, He wasn’t asking them to do more than they could. Of their works, He identifies three things that impressed Him:
- They made the best of what they had.
- They were obedient.
- They were faithful.
He appreciated the fact that they found things that they could do in the place where they were. They found a way to use their abilities. Then, not only were they active but they were also submissive. They obeyed the things He had asked. This is a key point because it is important that our talents and our submission to the authorities God has placed in our lives (His Word, our pastors, our leadership, etc.) work hand in hand. Finally, the church had not denied His name. They had been faithful to Him. They had not left Him in spite of the false promises the world had offered them or the hardships they had endured.
Now let’s go back to where we left Moses in the desert. He had spent some time healing and rebuilding his life. But despite everything that had happened, God still had a plan for Moses. Exodus 3 charts the beginning of his comeback:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (Exodus 3:1, NKJV)
There are two things that are important to notice here:
- Moses was keeping his father-in-law’s flock. He was doing his job. He was working in what he had been told to do. He was being faithful over the few things with which he had been entrusted. He had been trained for the highest office in the world at that time, but he was keeping sheep because it was his job. It wasn’t in his original job description but he was doing it anyway. Moses was using what little opportunity he had to do the job that needed to be done. He was being faithful and obedient.
- He came to the mountain of God. He came into God’s presence. Of all the places to go, he chose this one. He sought God. It wasn’t an easy place to get to. The Bible says it was in the “backside of the desert.” There was a journey involved but he kept moving because he had to seek out God. Moses wasn’t just ambling around. He was moving with purpose. He was looking to come into the presence of God. Before Moses entered into the next arena of ministerial service, he found a way to serve right where he was.
The Call of the Open Door
Moses had made his way to the mountain and had begun his ascent. Many times the great things of God come into our lives when we decide to go a little higher. Once Moses was up in the mountains, he saw the burning bush.
Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 3:3-4, NKJV)
Moses’ next move was to turn aside. It would have been easy to keep going but Moses was looking for something and he was sensitive to his surroundings. He acknowledged that God’s presence had come into his current situation. He shifted his focus and was expecting to receive. He was not only hoping for but he was also expecting an encounter with God.
The following verse shows us why it was so important that Moses was expecting to come across something special. Verse 4 tells us that the Lord saw that he turned aside to look. God was waiting to see if Moses would notice. It was all preordained. The calling had been set up from the start and before Moses ever made his journey God was already expecting him him to arrive. He was watching to see if Moses would respond.
When God called his name, Moses took off his shoes and then hid his face. Both of these are acts of submission and humility. The man who had plans to liberate his people on his own had learned a few lessons. God proceeded to call him to do the very thing he wanted to do so many years ago. This is one of the beautiful things about how God works. He knew that this was something Moses had wanted. Moses’ desire to free his people was completely natural. After all, God had put the desire there. There was nothing wrong with Moses’ dream; the problem was with his method. The first time it had happened, Moses had tried to do things his own way. Now he stood before a burning bush a changed man. And God saw the difference. This time it would work because this time Moses would be doing things God’s way.
God’s calling must have touched something deep inside Moses — a dream that had long been dormant. So many of us can relate. It’s that part of our lives we thought was over. And then God comes along and says, “I’m not through with you yet. It’s not over for you. Joy is waiting for you and blessings can still flow from your brokenness.”
Are you in the desert right now? It doesn’t have to last forever. God still has a purpose for you. Maybe you are going through a time of healing and rebuilding right now. If so, make the most of it! Maybe you’re standing at the threshold, restless, waiting for God to open some doors. If so, find a way to be active and serve right where you are. The ministry you’re hoping for might not be available yet but there is always something you can do. Be faithful and submissive to the authorities God has placed in your life. Work diligently for Him but don’t forget to seek Him as well. It is often in the most barren of places that He brings forth fresh anointing and new beginnings.
Read Part 2 of this article next week!