I've been reading a lot about Moses lately. God worked miracle after miracle for the Israelites, but shortly after they would forget and murmur (complain) about present difficulties. It was a constant roller-coaster going from, "Praise the Lord, He is so good and has led us thus far," to, "Bitter water!? Come on Moses, did you bring us out here to die of thirst?" What a stupid question! God didn't bring them out to die in the desert. How could they forget all the wonders God worked in Egypt? How could they possibly forget crossing the Red Sea on dry ground? Just think, Moses had to deal with this stubborn bunch of whiners for more than 40 years! And that only because they were a stubborn bunch of whiners!
What prepared him for such a great and difficult work? Well of course, everything about him shouted, "LEADER." He had been trained in the royal schools of the most powerful nation on earth. Everything from diplomacy to strategy to governing was included in his training. All of Egypt, including his royal grandfather, once looked to him as the next Pharaoh. Surely this is what qualified him to lead the multitude of God's people. Right?
The education he received in Egypt as the king’s grandson and the prospective heir to the throne was very thorough. Nothing was neglected that was calculated to make him a wise man, as the Egyptians understood wisdom. He received the highest civil and military training. He felt that he was fully prepared for the work of delivering Israel from bondage. But God judged otherwise. His providence appointed Moses forty years of training in the wilderness as a keeper of sheep (MH 474).
What? A shepherd? What happened to the great military leader, the heir to the throne of the most powerful kingdom in Egypt? Wasn't that the kind of training that would prepare Moses to lead his people? Doubtless it aided him greatly when the time came. But God knew that he wasn't ready yet. He had much to unlearn from his life as an honoured grandson of the Pharaoh, surrounded by heathen worship and glorified man-made structures. Here in the majestic mountains of the wilderness God revealed His power and greatness. Moses was alone with God, and he learned lessons of service, humility, tender care, patience, faithfulness, and meekness. He came to know God as a mighty but personal friend.
And then, the call came. Now God knew he was ready. Now, after he had let go of his own self-sufficiency, was he prepared to lead God's people from Egypt. In fact, he had become so humble and distrustful of himself that he shrank from the mission. It seemed impossible to him. God was patient, however, and provided everything he needed. And that encounter at the burning bush would be one of many near face-to-face meetings with God.
So what does this ancient familiar Bible story have to do with us today? Plenty. We are just as stubborn and whiny as those Israelites. We easily forget the ways God has led us in the past, and we complain and murmur about the smallest things.
Sometimes God leads you into the wilderness to teach you valuable lessons. This has to happen before He can really use you for the work He has called you to. You think that you are all prepared to do your lifework, or you think that you need education and power and honour in order to really do a work for God. But this is not reality. It may not make sense to the world, to your friends, to your family, or even to you, but God may place you in the most uncomfortable, uncanny, and unconventional circumstances to work out His greater purpose in your life.
And one day, you'll be ready.
One day, God will say to me, "Now you are ready. Go unto Pharaoh..." Whatever the work will be, I know that God is making me ready. He is using every experience and circumstance. And He is guiding every step. I may not meet a burning bush, or part the waters of a sea, but I KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that God has a plan for me.
And He has a plan for you.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).