A Stranger in a Strange Land

Exodus begins long enough after Joseph’s death that the new King of Egypt doesn’t know who Joseph was. He’s ruling over a country filled with outsiders who are not only prosperous, but who outnumber the Egyptians by a wide margin–wide enough to make the king start thinking maybe he ought to be concerned. I mean, what’s going to happen if Egypt goes to war with someone and all those Hebrews decide to side with the enemy?

Fear of the unknown led the king to take two steps. First, he set taskmasters over the Hebrews and made them work, making brick and performing all sorts of labor in the field.

When the Hebrews continued to prosper, he ordered all the midwives to kill all the male children born to Hebrew women. Luckily, the midwives feared God more than they feared the king and they spared those infant boys, lying to the king and claiming that the Hebrew women were so hearty they gave birth before the midwives were on the scene. “We would have killed them, your highness, if we’d been there.”

Because of the king’s fear, the lives of the Hebrews were hard and miserable. Isn’t it sad what fear can do? It can lead us into all sorts of trouble. Fear of failure. Fear that we’re not loved enough. Fear of change. Fear of rejection. Fear of being alone. Fear of pain.

No matter what form it takes, fear is one of Satan’s strongest tools in his war against God. He uses it on us all the time to keep us from doing what God would have us do. Here we are, members of God’s army, paralyzed by fear.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

Satan doesn’t have to get us to do something awful to win a battle, he just has to keep us from doing something good. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a pretty sobering thought. Not moving my feet is so much easier than moving them. 

Those brave midwives moved their feet and eventually Moses is born to a Hebrew woman. I’ve always loved the movie The Ten Commandments starting Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Anne Baxter. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. But just two chapters into Exodus in the Old Testament, I’m wondering just where the writers and producers got some of the stuff they included in the movie.

In the movie, Moses is pretty stunned and upset when he learns that he’s actually of Hebrew blood. That revelation rocks his world. But there’s no indication in the Bible (at least none that I’ve found so far) that his true background was ever a mystery to him. When Moses was grown, he went out unto his brethren and looked on their burdens.   He spotted an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren, and he did something. After making sure that nobody was looking he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-12)

Maybe Pharaoh didn’t know that Moses was Hebrew. Maybe he did. But Moses himself doesn’t seem to be in question. Which only goes to show that it’s not a good idea to let Hollywood influence how you feel about God, Jesus or the Bible–or much of anything else, for that matter.

Pharaoh learns what Moses did and is pretty unhappy about it. So unhappy, in fact, that he decides to kill Moses. Moses flees, finds a wife, settles down in a strange land. This seems to be a pretty common theme in the Bible so far. If God wants someone to get to work, he transplants them. Which pretty much tells us that God rarely asks us to hunker down and get to work from the safety of our comfort zones.

So far, everyone who had important work to do in the Bible had to get up and move. Had to step outside the safety net and do something uncomfortable. Had to risk censure and ridicule. Had to leave home. Had to endure mocking. Or fear for their lives.

I don’t think that God expects us all to move to the other side of the world before we get to work, but I am starting to get the message that He expects us to stop staying in the safe spots. He wants us to, at the very least, reach out to others, even when it’s a little uncomfortable. Even when we’re uncertain of the reception we’ll get. When the Spirit whispers that we should call someone to see how they’re doing, maybe we ought to actually do it instead of justifying it away by thinking that I’m too busy or they’re too busy, or I’ll just see them on Wednesday and ask then.

For a while now, God has been nudging me toward a change in my career. It’s scary. I’m not entirely sure how to go about it, and I’ve avoided taking the steps because they were difficult and the future was uncertain. At the end of 2009, He uprooted me and moved me across country. It was a good move for me personally in many ways. My youngest daughter and her family were here. Her husband was deployed, and she needed me and her sister while he was gone. It had the added side-benefit of putting me in the same town as my grandchildren. What a blessing that was.

But though I’ve always known that those things were part of the reason for moving across country, I’ve been very aware that they are only part. I’m closer now than I’ve ever been to actually making the move God asked me to make years ago when author Robin Lee Hatcher spoke at a writer’s conference about her call to stop writing Historical Romance and start writing Inspirational Books.

God issued a call to me that day. Until today, I’ve only mentioned it to a few family members and a handful of close friends. Since then, He has led me into some pretty deep valleys and out the other side so I could learn what I needed to learn to be ready to fulfill that call. Now he’s moved me out of my comfort zone and into a place where the resources I need are within reach. He’s been prompting me to take baby steps–reading the Bible from cover to cover, for example, and writing about my journey on this blog.

I’m not going to lie. It’s still scary. Fear of the unknown wraps me up and slows me down on a regular basis. But I’m trying not to let the fear stop me completely.

What about you? Has God tried to prod you out of your comfort zone lately? What did you do about it?

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