The Journey

Dear #PrisonersOfHope

When my son Jonathan was about three years, we took a long drive to Cape Town, 12 hours to be precise. The plan was to leave Joburg at 6am in order to arrive at 6pm. It was raining when we left home that morning, but not even the rain could dampen the excitement of the journey. By 9am we were already in another province, the Free State, we stopped for breakfast. It was a clear beautiful morning in Bloemfontein, the weather added to the excitement. Then proceeded to the Northern Cape. We passed the area of this province that was very dry, semi-desert, windy and very hot. By that time the excitement has worn off. It has gotten quiet in the car, you could tell everybody was tired. But it was when we were one and half hour to our final destination when my son made a passionate plea “can we please go back home.” We had been on the road for almost ten and half hour, and we were closer to our destination, than we were to our home.

It became very clear to me at that moment that when he got into the car that morning, he had one thing in his mind “arriving at his destination.” He was not interested in the journey. I believe that was the case with the children of Israel when they left Egypt, they had their destination in mind.

They left Egypt with great excitement. They left behind a life of slavery, hard labour and abuse. But their excitement did not last. About a month after being delivered from Egypt, they began to feel differently about their circumstances. And they wanted to go back to Egypt. “Who shall give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11 v 5-6.

It seems unbelievable that they wanted to go back to a deplorable life of slavery. They knew very well that if they went back to Egypt, they would once again be enslaved, but at least for them, that was familiar and predictable compared to the unknown they were facing in the desert. As human beings we have the fear of unknown. The Israelites were caught between the promise and the things they know. Familiar things are never easy to discard.

Many times when we find ourselves in places of great discomfort, we are tempted to want to return to the past, by reminiscing about what used to be or holding on to sentimental attachments. Longing for the past is an illusion, the future holds more promise than anything that used to be. The journey from slavery to freedom was undoubtedly filled with trials and tribulations, and yet by overcoming adversity they became stronger and more matured and eventually, more assured that leaving Egypt was in fact the right thing to do. God is interested not only in our final destination but also in the journey because on that journey He does a work in our lives that has eternal value.

Life is a journey. It is a journey through the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. God uses the journey to teach us faith, to refine our character, and to equip us for our calling. It is in the journey of life that we find God. On slippery roads, roads with pitfall and roadblocks, we discover His Grace and in the dead-end of our journey we find God’s Redemption.

When the journey gets harder and you are tempted to ‘go back home’ remember the word of God by the Prophet Isaiah “do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing.” Isaiah 43 v 18-19. After all, the journey with God is always ahead. It is once you have arrived at your destination that you can say indeed ‘difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.’

Signed: #RestoredMe

When Purpose Calls

Dear #PrisonersOfHope

Moses was born in Egypt at a time when the Egyptian authorities were trying to downsize the population of Hebrews. Jewish baby boys born at that time were condemned to die. In Exodus 2 we see Moses’s mother attempting to save her son by hiding him in a basket by the river’s bank.

When Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe at the riverside, she noticed the ark among the reeds and asked her maid to get it, and inside was the baby crying. She knew the baby was one of the Hebrew children but she had compassion on him. She adopted him and gave him the name Moses.

Moses grew up in the palace as a son to Pharaoh’s daughter. Though Moses was raise in Pharaoh’s palace, he identify with the suffering of his own people. The same chapter tells us of how Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he looked left and right and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian, hid him in the sand and saved his fellow Hebrew brother. The next day he tried to intervene in a fight between two Hebrews. One responded by saying “do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” His secret was out. They say three can keep a secret, if only two of them are dead. “When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian.” Exodus 2 v 15. Moses lived in Midian, taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.

If ever someone was called out of their comfort zone, it was Moses. He left the beauty of the palace to live a life as a humble mountain shepherd. That’s what happens when purpose calls.

We see many detours in the life of Moses. Rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter, raised by a Hebrew mother, given a place of honor in Pharaoh’s place and then, tending the flocks of his father-in-law. At this point it looked like his life was off track. How did this boy who grew up in the palace ended up taking care of the sheep? Things were clearly not going as expected. But it was in this season, when his life seemed off track that he had an encounter with God. God does not meet with us in our comfort zone.

At a time when Ruth’s life seemed to be off track, she met Boaz. Ruth was busy doing what she had to do for her and Naomi to survive, gleaning after reapers (poor people were allowed to follow the reapers in the field and glean the fallen spears of grain). Ruth found herself isolated in the field. But her isolation became a platform, she was more noticeable to Boaz on her own than she would’ve been in the crowd.

It was at the desert while tending the flock that Moses had an encounter with God in a burning bush. It was during this encounter that God sent Moses back to Egypt. What is it with God sending people back to the place they ran away from? Remember Hagar, whilst she was on the run, isolated in the wilderness, she had an encounter with the Angel of God, who instructed her to “return” to the very place she ran away from. Both Hagar and Moses had to submit to the process, for the promise to manifest.

Moses’s life might have had many detours, but God used all that to prepare him for the fulfillment of his purpose. Who would have thought that the man who was once tending after the flocks will later in Exodus 33 v 11, be referred to as “the one God spoke to face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” Deuteronomy 34 v 10 says about the very same man “ But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” When you get discouraged about many detours and interruptions in your own life, when you find yourself tending after the sheep, just to survive, be encouraged as you study the life of Moses and his journey of faith, knowing that God can use even your difficulties and failures as He does His work in and through you.

Signed: RestoredMe