Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The World's Hardest Job

OK, so, which do you think would be harder, being the guy how led several million Israelites out of Egypt or the wife of the guy who led several million Israelites out of Egypt?  Yep, that’s what I thought too.

Have you ever had to stand back and watch while someone you loved and cared about had to take a risk?  Maybe it’s being in a play, playing basketball, preaching his (or her) first sermon, being elected president of the United States, or being chosen by God to go back to Egypt and chat with Pharaoh.  That’s one of the hardest things in the world, isn’t it?  You’re more nervous than he is, aren’t you?  Butterflies in your stomach, weak knees, profuse sweating, heart palpitations…you’re a nervous wreck.  He, however, looks calm, cool, and collected.  That’s so not fair.

Now, when things go well, the pressure of watching your loved one doing his thing is bearable.  But then things start going badly:  he forgets his lines, misses what would have been the winning basket, gets stuck during his sermon, his approval rating tanks or the Israelites start whining.  That’s when things begin to get uncomfortable; certainly for the person in the thick of the difficulties, but also for the person who has to stand by and take it.  Excruciating, in fact.

Think of Moses and Zipporah.  They had forty pretty easy years together-just the sheep, Zipporah’s sisters and at least one brother, Jethro, and the two boys.  They all seemed to get along pretty well.  When you think about, Moses probably had spent more of his life with these people than he had with his own family (birth or adopted).  He had worked beside these people, eaten with them, laughed and cried with them; Moses knew Zipporah’s family on a really personal basis.  They probably had inside jokes and funny old memories that his own family back in Egypt would not understand.  In many ways, I believe Moses felt more closeness with this family than with his own…to begin with anyway.

But then, God gives Moses a mission and things begin to happen pretty quickly; Moses and his wife and kids head off for Egypt.

Now to be really honest, I don’t get this whole circumcision, husband of blood thing AT ALL!  I do take comfort in finding out that almost nobody else gets it either.  Some people say that the angel was trying to kill Moses’ son, Gershom, that it was Moses who was circumcised, that Zipporah was honoring Moses by putting the blood on his feet, or that she was angry at him for making her do what he should have done.  There’s another whole theory that God was trying to kill Moses because Moses had been reluctant to take on this mission.  I think those are all things we’ll have to ask Moses and Zipporah about when we chat with them in Heaven.  All I think I understand about this episode, is that Zipporah did what she had to do to save her husband’s life, even though she probably wasn’t thrilled about doing it or understand all the why’s and wherefores of it.  She saw what had to be done and she did it.  Wow.

Zipporah doesn’t come into the story again for quite a while.  Again, there are lots of theories.  Some say that Moses divorced her at that point…but then why did she come see him again later?  Mrs. White says that Moses realized that the things he was going to have to do to get through to Pharaoh were going to be too hard on her.  He probably also knew that he couldn’t be distracted from his mission, even by his own family.  Another thing, and this is just me, Moses might have been a little reluctant for his birth family to meet Zipporah, and with good reason, as it turned out.  Whatever the logic was, Zipporah goes back to Midian and Moses heads on to Egypt.  That must have been tough.
When Zipporah and Moses meet up again, Zipporah has to realize pretty quickly that her quiet shepherdess life is completely over.  Now she is traveling the desert with the leader of several million whiney people who wanted Moses’ attention all the time.  They wanted more food, different food, water; they wanted Moses to settle their petty little arguments – all day long, everyday!  Oh for a couple hundred nice quiet sheep!!!

Do you remember how angry you were the first time one of you kids told you that somebody at school didn’t like him (or her)?  Or later, when somebody he was dating broke his heart?  He probably got over it before you did, because he’s interacting, crying, healing, meeting new people, and hopefully studying; while all you have to go on is that one bit of information, that one interaction when he was the most vulnerable.  He can move on much more easily than you can.  Imagine Moses and Zipporah in their tent ready to go to sleep and Moses is decompressing from his day.  Zipporah listens and gets pretty angry and frustrated with these people who are eating up all of her husband’s time.  Moses can get a good night’s sleep and go out and do it all again tomorrow, but Zipporah has time to stew about each slight and complaint.  Thankfully she went and vented to her dad who had some pretty great advice about how to delegate authority so Moses could stick to the important business of getting all these folks to the Promised Land.

You know what’s really great though, is that Moses took the advice.  How many of us would have just brushed Jethro’s advice off?  I mean what did he know?  He’d never led millions of people through the desert.  God hadn’t called him to free the Israelites from slavery.  He was just some small town priest from some backwoods town. Moses knew two things, though.  First, he knew his father-in-law well enough to know he was a smart guy; he’d already learned a lot from him.  And, second, he knew that God was the One who was really in charge; and if He chose to give Moses advice through his father-in-law, he’d be glad to take it.

Moses shows the advantages of having a great support system for somebody who is in a position of authority.  He didn’t ever just set out to do this on his own.  He worked with his own family – Miriam and Aaron.  He worked with his in-laws – Jethro and Hobab (Zipporah’s brother).  He worked with the Israelites by delegating authority over the people.  And probably most importantly, Moses wasn’t a control freak, an easy trap to fall into when a person holds that much authority. 

Another great thing is that Zipporah worked hard to make Moses' life easier not harder.  And isn’t that the best way we can serve each other, by making each other’s lives easier?  “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  Galations 6:2 

Zipporah could have whined to Moses that he never paid any attention to her and the boys; that he’d dragged them out into the wilderness without discussing things first; that he cared more about these strangers than he did about her.  When Moses’ brother and sister got ugly about her, she could have jumped into the fight and told them what she thought about them…but as far as we know, she didn’t give into that mentality.  She supported her husband in the mission he had accepted. 

I’d be willing to bet that she didn’t always like the way her life was going, but that didn’t change her mind about her mission—to be a blessing to her family. 
The wife can be a comfort, a blessing, standing by the side of her husband as his safe counselor, her influence keeping him to the right, to honesty and purity and godliness.”--Letter 41a, 1888, p. 5. (Written at Burrough Valley, Calif., July 7, 1888, to Brothers and Sisters at Fresno.)
“Here is the wife, the queen of the home--the blessing of God can rest upon her that she may be a sunshine, a sunbeam, in the house. Never, never, in any way, speak in a manner that would irritate. The voice is a talent; it is a talent of God. It is to be so cultivated that it will bring peace and harmony and light and love.” {2SAT 271.3}

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