Mucked Up But Not Forsaken (Part 1)
What happens when we muck up in our life? When we did something clearly sinful, perhaps abhorrent even to God? Is there any hope left? Can we ever be restored again? This is such an important issue for many who have made mistakes and regret it for the rest of their lives.
When we study the Scriptures, we discover an incredible example of one man who truly messed up his life. In Exodus 2:11-15, we find Moses who thought he could save his people from the ruthless Egyptian slave masters. But his way involved killing a slave master. Pharaoh found out and he had to run for his life.
Imagine how it must feel. To be running away in fear and guilt. With a past that threatens to catch up and a doubtful future ahead. Life is hanging on a thread. What a tight corner! What a lonely and hopeless situation to be in.
Perhaps we may be experiencing challenges in our life right now. Or we may have experienced it in the past. Or if we should face such challenges in the future, how can we respond? When we seem to be stuck in a tight corner, one thing that often trouble people's minds is: Has God forsaken me? Is there any hope for me?
From this passage we will discover the certainty that God never forsakes!
NOT FORSAKEN DESPITE WRONGDOING
Moses had mucked up bad. He was now a fugitive. He became a stranger in a strange land, separated from home and family, from all that he was familiar with.
Perhaps like Moses, we may have done something wrong. We may be running away from certain things of our past. Perhaps, like Moses we may find ourselves deep in a dark tunnel of despair when suddenly a light appears at its very end. In the very midst of a situation gone horribly wrong, when we feel like being squashed in the corner, when one may expect God to forsake us because of our sins, the opposite occurs. Instead, we discover that God perseveres with us, and He provides us opportunities to get out of the tight corner.
We discover that God perseveres with us, and He provides us opportunities to get out of the tight corner.
Opportunity for reprieve
Exodus 2:15 (NIV84) When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian...
Though Moses had done wrong, God provided him an opportunity for reprieve to escape the clutches of Pharaoh, possibly the most powerful man on earth at that time. What made the difference was although Moses had mucked up, he continued to look to God for help. Heb 11:27 (NIV84) By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Though Moses had done wrong, God provided him an opportunity for reprieve to escape the clutches of Pharaoh, possibly the most powerful man on earth at that time.
Have you ever done something silly? Mucked up because you did not understand, or were rash, or lost it for a little while? Only to realize what you had done and cried to God for help? Moses probably was in that situation. And God provided him a reprieve from Pharaoh's punishment. Indeed, God has promised that He will never leave or forsake us. Psa 9:10 (NIV84) Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
We are never forgotten nor forsaken despite our wrongdoing. Even if you mucked up really bad! Isn't that comforting? As long as we do not forsake God Himself. Further, when God provides a reprieve, we should not always think that God has delivered us and that is the end of the story. Usually, God reprieves us to buy us time. Time for what?
Opportunity for redemption
Exodus 2:16–20 (NIV84) 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. 18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?” 19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 “And where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”
God provided a reprieve for Moses so that God may now redeem Moses. For that is God's heart.
God provided a reprieve for Moses so that God may now redeem Moses. For that is God's heart. To redeem the lost. Even though Moses was on the run, God did not forsake him. In the sequence of events, we can discern the hand of God. We may fall out of God's plans, but God seeks to help us fall right back in!
We may fall out of God's plans, but God seeks to help us fall right back in!
Moses was accepted by strangers. But it was not any stranger. Reuel may be a Midian, but a priest of the Most High. We have strong evidence of this because of several factors. Firstly, the name Reuel meant a "friend of El or God". Now Reuel is probably also known as Jethro, who later became Moses' father-in-law.
Scholars have proposed different theories on the link between Reuel and Jethro. The different theories arose because in the Hebrew the word translated "father-in-law" just means a relative by marriage. And the word translated "father" can mean grandfather as well. Some suggested that Reuel was actually the grandfather Zipporah and Jethro was his son and hence Moses’ brother-in-law. Yet the simplest and most reasonable explanation is that Reuel and Jethro is the same person.
Secondly, Ex 18:10-12 reveals Reuel/Jethro's attitude of thanksgiving towards God and familiarity in making sacrifices to God. Exodus 18:10–12 (NIV84) 10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
Reuel/Jethro is clearly a follower of God who was probably instrumental in influencing Moses later. He helped draw Moses closer to God and to understand God's ways.
Moses may have thought he was finished as far as it relates to the purposes of God. But God was not finished with him. Moses ran away from Pharaoh and ran into God's provision for redemption. Moses who was arrogant and took matters into his own hands will now be humbled and taught to look to God. We may think we are washed out, but God wants to clean us up.
We may think we are washed out, but God wants to clean us up.
How does God redeem us despite us mucking up? Often when people muck up really bad, they are not in shape to go through God's normal route to mature us. Instead, He takes us on another route. A longer, slower journey to give time for restoration and rebuilding of our character foundations. It is like the difference between normal school and special school for children with some developmental challenges. Because it is like we are somewhat retarded spiritually or wounded and need a longer and slower education.
In 1987, Donna Rice's name hit the tabloids in a highly publicized sexual scandal with former Colorado senator Gary Hart, a married man. Hart's bid for the 1988 Democratic nomination was trashed and so was Rice's reputation. Rice disappeared from the public eye, but she's back--passionately committed to God and to "Enough is Enough," a Christian organization fighting to keep pornography out of the hands of minors.
Donna was a backslidden Christian who had wandered further and further from God. But God turned her around and redeemed her from the errors of her way. Rice is most thankful for God's work in her life: "God loves us, but he doesn't grant us immunity from the consequences of our choices. However, when we mess up, if we ask his forgiveness, he'll redeem those choices, using our mistakes as a 'door of hope' for other people (Hosea 2:14-15). I have great empathy for victims of sexual abuse and pornography. God has brought purpose to my pain." -- from Today's Christian Woman. Christian Reader, Vol. 35, no. 2.
Opportunity for rebuilding
Moses thought that he had lost everything. But Moses was given an opportunity to make a fresh start. To begin rebuilding his life. God not only provided a way to redeem Moses, but also prepared for him a new life through his marriage to Zipporah and in becoming a father.
Exodus 2:21–22 (NIV84) 21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become an alien in a foreign land.”
God provided Moses opportunity for reprieve, redemption and rebuilding. Because God does not forsake us. In all this, it is because God wants to bless us, to do us good. Jer 29:11 (NIV84) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We can experience reprieve, redemption and rebuilding if we choose to look to God in faith, like Moses.
London businessman Lindsay Clegg was selling his warehouse property. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash all over the place. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, he took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. The buyer said, "Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site."
That's God's message to us! When we become God's the old life is over. He makes all things new. All He wants is the site and the permission to build. There are still some trying to "reform," but God offers "redemption." All we have to do is give Him the "property" and he will do the necessary "building."
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 51.
We may have mucked up through some bad decisions we made. But God does not forsake us. God will give us the opportunity for reprieve, redemption and rebuilding.
God does not forsake us. God will give us the opportunity for reprieve, redemption and rebuilding.
There are more reasons why God does not forsake us. Find out in Part 2.
Copyright©️2021 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.