Thursday, February 18, 2010
Moses and the Stay at Home Mom - Part 2
Ah yes. Moses.
How on earth will this be relevant to me?, I thought as I flipped open the new lesson study last quarter at church. I've read the stories of Moses and the children of Israel to my children hundreds of times, read the boring liturgy of begats and statistics over and over, and well, I was hoping for something a little more... thought provoking.. than a study of the book of Numbers.
Boy, was I wrong. As my husband is an intermittent teacher of the adult class, we found ourselves often spending hours studying, debating, and learning. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to know! Suddenly its relevance was so startlingly transparent I wondered where my mind had been for the past 30 years.
Moses had, indeed, humble beginnings. We all know the story of the basket boat and the daughter of Pharaoh that discovered him - leaving him ultimately with his own mother until he could come to live with her in the palace and begin his education.
And WHAT an education!! He was favored by Pharaoh himself and was primed to rise to the role of successor to the throne. Pharaohs were not only rulers, they were also believed to be gods! How rough! The people saw him not only as potential ruler, but potential god to be worshiped. And so his education left nothing to be desired. Egypt at that time was the most advanced civilization then known to the world, the most powerful force with riches and armies to prove it. He was an apt student, beloved of the royal family, and of the men he led in battle as General of the greatest army in the world.
At 40 years old, he was in the beginning of the prime of his life. Unmarried, physically fit, highly educated, and in direct line for the throne, he must have been quite a catch and I'm sure attracted a LOT of attention from the ladies. Respected by his peers for his mental abilities and his prowess at leading the men in battles, his life, I'm sure, was filled with accolades, recognition, praise, you name it.
Pride grew somewhere in his heart, took root, and gave him the illusion that all he needed to be the leader God wanted him to be was given to him in the training of the courts and palace halls, in the connections and the military training he already had.
Boy, was he wrong.
But how? How could a man with that kind of training and education NOT be ready to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and to the promised land? What was missing? What could POSSIBLY be missing?
He was soon to find out.
His pride led him to presumption, and he found himself soon so far removed from his world of comfort and popularity that it must have seemed like a horrible mistake. But it wasn't a mistake at all.
For the next 40 years, long enough to make him think he had probably been mistaken about his calling to free his people, he herded sheep. In the wilderness.
There were no servants to dress him, clean up after him, or inform him of the latest advances of the army. No women chasing him, no doting pharaoh to make him and everyone around him believe he could do no wrong.
In fact, for the first time in his life, he probably had women snickering at him as he blundered around with trying to herd the sheep those first few months. Survival became more of a day to day reality. No pampering, no food and water waiting patiently for him whenever he came home.
Talk about humbling.
He spent the years, seasons in, seasons out, learning to gently lead his sheep, become a husband and father, survive in very simple surroundings, and rely ONLY on God for his true needs.
He doubled his age. 40 years of education and training, 40 years of learning the rest of the lessons God needed him to learn. Humility. Self-sacrifice. Humility. Patience with those weaker than him. Humility. Long-suffering. That popularity means nothing in the eyes of God.
Then, and ONLY then, was Moses ready for God to use him in the capacity necessary for the job at hand. Both his early education and his later education were led by God, for specific purposes. God's timing was not what Moses, or his mother, or what we today would expect, but nonetheless it was perfect.
Think about it. How often do we, as modern women, place so much value on our education, our book learning, our image, our ability to present ourselves as learned and intelligent beings in front of our peers, that we forget that our time in college may not be all God has in store for our education.
How often have we heard from other people that those of us who choose to stay at home with our children instead of pursuing a fulfilling career elsewhere have "wasted our potential". Yes, I have heard those very words used to describe my own life. And coming from such a dear person as they did, it was incredibly hard for me at times not to BELIEVE them.
Now I KNOW I have not wasted my potential. There is no harder job to do than to raise children to have self-respect, to love their neighbor, and to serve God with their whole hearts. I often make mistakes. There is hardly an employee handbook to follow word for word, though keeping the Word of God open and in use is a good start! Even Moses at times flung his hands in the air and wished he could take a break from the constant whining of his "children". Even Moses made mistakes. And if he could do so after such thorough education and humility training over a span of 80 years, I'd be crazy if I thought I were always going to be the perfect parent.
Now I know that there is more to learn that what is available in all the books of the entire world. Maybe what God needs me to learn is more patience, more self-sacrifice, more humility. For certainly there is humility in performing the necessary duties of this life with faithfulness. Especially when they are incredibly, mind-numbingly simple. It doesn't stretch my mind to wash the dishes when I've done it a million times before. There is no mental stimulation in the folding of the laundry, or the changing of diapers.
Now I know there is much, much more to life, to salvation, to education, than stretching my mind and expanding my realm of influence and status in the world. Sometimes there is just the strengthening and fortifying of the soul through humbling acts of service to little people who cannot know or appreciate the self-sacrifice that goes into each and every stroke of the broom, swiping of the rag over a dirty table, or careful hanging up of a little church dress.
Yet my example in the faithfulness of these little things is of utmost importance to their little hearts and souls. Through example they learn. How humbling is that knowledge? To know that even the mindless things I do, that make me scream inside for the stimulation of an adult conversation when I've been cooped up for days in the winter with small children, has eternal consequences.
Yes, now is the time I feel like I am wandering in the wilderness, wondering if my education has gone to waste, wondering if I will remember how to think when I again have the opportunity. But now I feel blessed, secure that I am exactly where God wants me to be, learning the things He knows I need to learn.
This IS the continuing of my education. And education is NEVER wasted!
Posted by Lisa at 6:06 AM