A wasp is caught between the window and screen above our kitchen sink. How did it get there? We can’t see the slit that it must have slipped through, but some sort of opening must be there. Now the wasp can’t seem to find its way back to the hidden opening either, so it crawls along the screen, looking in vain for an escape route.
I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve found myself in the same situation.
Whether I’m going along oblivious to the things around me or consciously make a decision that sends me down the wrong path, the result is still the same: I’m stuck in a place I don’t want to be and don’t know how to get out.
Sometimes the thing I want — the place I want to be — is right in front of me. But like the wasp that can see the outdoors but not find its way to freedom, I can’t always easily find my way back to where I want to be, either.
I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I know I’m not because the Bible tells multiple stories of people who found themselves in a place they didn’t expect.
You might think of others, but two that come immediately to mind for me are:
- Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit and then shared it with Adam (Genesis 3)
- Jonah, who hopped on a ship going in the opposite direction from what God instructed and then ended up thrown overboard and in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 1-2)
These are important stories and have lessons for us to learn, but one of the biggest self-imposed “stuck and turned around” stories for me is Moses.
Yes, Moses was a great leader who God used to get the Israelites free from Egyptian slavery and through the desert toward their Promised Land.
Yes, Moses had such a close relationship with God that they had true back-and-forth conversations.
Yes, Moses was the person God entrusted with the 10 Commandments.
But before all that, Moses was a murderer.
He was raised in Pharaoh’s household and many scholars believe he was being groomed to take over Pharaoh’s throne. But beneath the fine Egyptian clothes, education, and abundance of food and drink was a Hebrew man. As much as it may have seemed he was ingrained in Pharaoh’s family, Moses knew his true heritage.
One day when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, Moses snapped. Rage overtook him and he killed the Egyptian. (Exodus 2:11-12)
What happened next? Moses panicked, just like the rest of us would.
He buried the Egyptian in the sand and thought no one saw what he’d done — but he was wrong.
The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (Exodus 2:13-14 NIV)
When word reached Pharaoh, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses escaped and fled about 700 miles east to Midian.
Talk about being stuck in a place he didn’t expect or want to be!
One day Moses was living the spoiled life of Pharaoh’s heir apparent. The next, he was a murderer. And then he was a fugitive trying to escape Pharaoh’s wrath.
The years Moses spent in Midian weren’t wasted. He met his wife Zipporah and they started a family. He worked as a shepherd for his father-in-law Jethro.
Do you know what shepherds have a lot of? Time. Hours and hours of time away from other people. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to reconsider. Time to repent.
We know that David used his time as a shepherd to connect with God and I believe Moses did, too.
When God was ready — and when He knew Moses was ready — He called Moses from his “stuck” place in a big way. Moses wouldn’t live the rest of his life in Midian as a shepherd. Instead, he would return to Egypt to demand that Pharaoh release the Hebrew slaves.
Moses wouldn’t hide from prying eyes and try to walk through life unnoticed. Instead, he would be front and center as the leader of God’s people.
It was all because God had a bigger plan for Moses and Moses was willing to follow.
It can be the same for us when we’re stuck somewhere we didn’t expect. We might be surprised, but God isn’t. We might not know which direction to turn, but God does.
We might feel trapped like the wasp behind my screen, surprised to be in that place and unable to find our way out (which it did, after a couple of days). But we can get out of our stuck spot. We can cry out to God for help and be certain that He hears us.
- The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. (Psalm 34:15 ESV)
- When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17 ESV)
And when the time is right, God will help us get out of that spot and on to the next thing He has for us, just like He did for Moses. We just have to be willing to follow.
How have you been reminded lately that God will help us get unstuck, even when we brought it on ourselves? Is there something you can do to help someone else see this for themselves?
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