Written By Kelley Easley
If the past three years have taught me anything, it’s that the trappings of this life are transitory, and that lasting treasure can only be laid hold of in eternity. It’s easy to lose sight of that though, as we slug it out in the drudgery of our daily trials. We need inspiration to endure[i] and to be victorious.
In an effort to encourage his readers to keep their eyes on the prize, the author of Hebrews wrote to them saying,
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV).
These words remind us that as we walk out the often challenging journey of faith, we can look not only to Jesus, and His example of endurance, but also to the example of faithful believers who have gone before us. In Hebrews 11 we are given a list of people specifically known in Scripture for their willingness to trust God in spite of seemingly insurmountable circumstances—people who lived with incredible eternal perspective and looked toward their future reward.
Riches to Rags:
One such example is Moses. In the passage popularly referred to as the Hebrews Hall of Faith, the author has this to say about him:
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27 NKJV).
Having grown up as royalty in Egypt, Moses was called by God to free the children of Israel from their enslavement under Pharaoh and lead the stubborn Nation through a desert wasteland for forty years. During that time, the people constantly grumbled and complained, questioned his authority, and even plotted to kill him (see Numbers 14:10). Though the Lord’s presence went with them, and His provisions never failed, I think it’s fair to say that Moses’s “work environment” was a far cry from the luxurious life of privilege he had surely enjoyed as the adopted grandson of the ruler of Egypt.
Nomadic life was no picnic. If the plight of the children of Israel was difficult, Moses faced even greater obstacles as their leader. As he led the rebellious Israelites through the desert toward the Promise Land, water was scarce, the people complained about their menu options, and they were beset by enemies (Exodus 17:8)—not to mention the hardships they undoubtedly faced while being exposed to the elements in a desert landscape. In addition to all that, numerous calamitous judgements befell them—such as plagues, fiery serpents, and the tragic incident at Korah, where a segment of Moses’s followers were suddenly swallowed up by the earth—as a result of their unwillingness to “trust and obey.”
Believers Burn Out:
It’s hard to even imagine the pressure Moses must have felt as their leader. Time and again, he had to stand in the gap for the children of Israel, interceding for them and pleading with the Lord to show mercy in the face of their repeated rebellion. Personally, I’ve come to realize that if it’s hard to make myself do something, it’s infinitely harder to lead others to reach a goal. Imagine how weary Moses must have felt at times, knowing that he could never relent as he strove to push the Nation across the finish line and into the Promised Land. But In fact, we don’t have to imagine, because Scripture tells us exactly how he felt:
“Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?…I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!” (Numbers 11:10-11 and 14-15).
Moses was so burned out by the enormity of his responsibilities, he literally wanted to die. Can you relate to Moses’s complaint? Have you ever felt like the task before you was just too great to accomplish?
As a mother, there are certainly days when I wish I had only myself to worry about. It’s funny, actually; when I was in my twenties, I used to lament the fact that I hadn’t yet found my “knight in shining armor,” and secretly feared that the Lord would send me to live out my days as a single lady in a mud hut in Africa. I idealized marriage and imagined that if it weren’t for me, it would be because the Lord needed to use singleness as a means of sanctifying me. To me, that was the “hard” path, while marriage (and possibly children) would be like living on “easy street.” Oh how I chuckle at that notion today!
And while I certainly don’t want to make light of the unique and very real challenges which single people or missionaries face, marriage and parenting are hard! For me, this is the crucible, the place where opportunities for sanctification seem endless. It is a constant act of dying to self and remembering that I am not my own and that I was bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I can relate to Moses on so many levels! Granted, I’m only serving four and leading three—not hundreds of thousands—but the struggle is real, nonetheless. Although I can’t imagine my life without them, shepherding stubborn little sheep can be exhausting! I must constantly remind myself that my work has eternal implications and carries with it the promise of eternal rewards.
Eyes on Eternity:
From the time he stepped foot off the palace steps, Moses’ life was never his own. Every moment centered around leading the people and getting them to their goal—a goal which often seemed impossible. But though his earthly task was daunting, Moses knew that his heavenly reward was greater. He had eyes on eternal things, not on earthly treasures or trials. Whether the challenge before you is motherhood, marriage, leading others at work or in ministry—or something entirely different—as believers, we can all look to Moses for inspiration. He walked by faith in the promise of the Lord and the riches that only He could provide (Heb 11:6). As we all face our own unique trials, may we strive to imitate Moses, and walk by faith in the promises of our Savior.
[i] Endurance is not required for eternal life, nor does it prove salvation. The endurance and resulting victory here should be understood in context of rewards and Christian living (2 Tim 2:12).
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