Are there any men or women from the Bible that you identify with as you read their stories?
For me, that person is Moses. Sadly, I don’t mean the heroic Moses we meet after his encounter with God and the burning bush. No, I mean the impulsive, impatient man we meet earlier in his life.
I’m a go-getter and tend to jump in and get things done. If I see something that needs doing, I’m on it! In some instances, that’s a good thing. But other times, it leaves me over-committed, exhausted, and stressed out. Peace eludes me, and the repercussions bleed over into my family life. There have even been times when I’ve found myself in a situation fraught with turmoil and regret, experiences that left painful scars on my heart because I jumped in too soon.
Maybe you’ve also found yourself in a situation where a rash decision led to negative impacts on your life. If so, you might also relate to Moses and be able to learn from his mistakes as I have.
A little backstory: Moses was an Israelite who was rescued from death as a baby and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter during a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. (Exodus 2:1-10; Acts 7:17-22)
However, the period in Moses’ life that I most identify with is when he was forty years old.
“When [Moses] was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.” Acts 7:23-25 (ESV)
Here we learn that “it came into his heart.” Something stirred within Moses’ heart, telling him he needed to visit the Israelites. I can relate to that stirring in the heart. I’ve experienced that many times in my life, and often it’s a good thing because it can be the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 7:26 explains that Moses “supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.”
It seems that Moses had already discovered the reason God saved him from death as a baby and had Pharaoh’s daughter adopt him. Moses had realized his God-created purpose was to rescue the Israelites from the oppression they were experiencing in Egypt.
Although the prompting to visit the Israelites may have been from the Holy Spirit, what Moses did next definitely was not! When Moses observed the Egyptians treating the Israelites with brutality, he was appalled, which led him to commit murder. The thing is, the Holy Spirit cannot lead us into sin, so we know that this action was not Spirit-led. (James 1:13)
So, how did Moses go from being led by the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:23 to going so far out of God’s will that he committed murder in the very next verse? If Moses knew his purpose, where did he go wrong?
Exodus 2:12 reveals that after seeing the Israelite being beaten, Moses “looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian.”
This is a crucial point in the story. Here we learn that Moses took the time to look around and ensure no one saw him, and then he sprang into action. But it’s what Moses did not do that got him into trouble. He took time to make sure he wouldn’t get caught, and then he acted without consulting God. Moses didn’t take time to pray. He got so excited and was so confident of his calling that he rushed ahead, causing him to step out of God’s will.
Friends, I have done that so many times. So. Many. Times. And, although it’s never led me to commit murder, it always ends in disaster.
The lesson we need to learn is that fulfilling God’s purpose requires God’s timing!
We can see a task that we’re suited for doing; we can know how we’re prepared and equipped by God for a specific purpose; we can have the vision He wrote on our hearts, but if it’s not His timing, we must wait.
If something is stirring in your heart and you’re anxious to get going but find yourself feeling that you need to slow down and wait, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, spend time in prayer and study Scripture so that you’ll be able to discern the Lord’s timing and plan.
Waiting is still a struggle for me, but I’m finally learning. We moved last summer to a community we lived in a few years ago, and I had dreams of jumping in and getting involved right away. But the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart the need to wait six months before pursuing anything. It was challenging for me to do because I want to do all the things! But I obeyed. While I waited on Him to tell me when it was time to act, I studied Scripture and prayed.
Just over six months after moving here, He’s beginning to open doors. I started a new job a few weeks ago; it’s a dream position fulfilling many of my ministry passions and utilizing many of the skills and spiritual gifts He gave me. If I had rushed ahead of Him before those six months were up, I would likely have been too busy with other commitments to do what He had planned for me. I am so happy I waited on Him because I would hate to have missed out on His best for me.
Fulfilling God’s purpose satisfies our souls in ways nothing else can because it is what we were uniquely created to do, but we must remember to patiently, faithfully wait on Him. In His timing, He will reveal the next step!