|14th February, 1999|
It is amazing how present events are preparing you for later. Today's activities prepare you for tomorrow's demands. Yet at the time, we become impatient because we cannot see the relevance of our present experience. We want everything now, not later. The student, hard at work with exam preparation, will despair about the irrelevance of a particular subject. I despaired my study of Latin for six years, of Greek for six years, and ten years of classical history. I little knew that twenty-five years later my books on Greek and Roman history would be read in many countries. Or that I would be teaching Greek and Latin history as a background to Christianity on television and by video in thousands of schools, on TV stations going into millions of homes, in a dozen countries and in several languages!
I believe nothing you ever learn is wasted. It fits into the pattern of your life. My university studies in chemistry, genetics, physiology, and biology seemed a waste when I became a minister of religion. But the University of Sydney, and the major teaching hospitals needed a theologian with training in those subjects for their Ethics Committee. By law approval must be given for all new medical treatment in humans and every experiment on animals. Those years of training were not wasted, but were a preparation for later life.
A little girl crying over a broken doll is being prepared for the sufferings adults encounter. Present events never leave our future untouched. For good or ill, what we are presently experiencing will impact our future. Are there examples in your life, where what you learnt once came to have great significance later? That is the role of education, to prepare you for life. That is the role of friendship, to prepare you for engagement. That is the role of engagement, to prepare you for marriage. That is the role of leisure, to prepare you for retirement. That isthe role of this life, to prepare you for eternity.
You may think your job is a drag. It may be unrelated to your hopes for the future. But present action prepares for future achievement. Consider this in the life of MOSES. Exodus 2:1-4
Moses was born a Hebrew in a time of suffering. This was a preparation for his lifels work of leading a suffering nation to its own land. Moses had an sister miriam, and a brother Aaron. Later, Miriam was to be co-leader with Moses, and Aaron was to be the first High priest. After birth, Moses was hidden for three months be cause Pharaoh ordered all male slave babies killed to limit their numbers. Moses became too noisy to hide. His mother placed him in a water-proof reed basket on the river Nile. The order on population control said all baby boys were to be thrown into the river as a sacrif ice to the river god. His mother was obedient to the law of Pharaoh, trusting in God to protect her son.
Thor Hyerdyall made the papyrus skiff "Ra" from the Nile reeds, and successfully floated from Africa to America. Near the area of Goshen in the Nile Delta, papyrus grows in abundance. I have some at our home growing two metres tall. Miriam stood guard. The mother of Moses was like mothers who left children on the door-step of Wesley Mission's Dalmar Childrens Home. One poor, distraught mother, unable to care for her two children, brought them to the front gate of Dalmar, pinned a note on their coats, and sent them down the long front path. We accepted those children and arranged a foster family. If we had found their own mother, we would have supported her in bringing up her own children.
v5-9. So Moses was saved from death in the Nile River by his sister. Miriam spoke to Pharaoh's daughter suggesting she could get a Hebrew woman to breast-feed the baby. She got her mother and Moses was raised by her. She was paid to bring up her own child by the princess who sponsored his education and training in leadership.
Thirtyfive years ago as a pastor to Melbourne's slums, I knew a poor mother, battling on her own to bring up her children. It seemed they would go to a childrens home. But a single Chinese Christian named Gladys Chung who had no children of her own, employed her to care for her own family. Gladys followed Pharaoh's daughter's example. Ironically Pharaoh housed, fed, clothed and educated the man who would lead his slaves to freedom. v10
Stephen, spoke of Moses saying: "The King's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds." Acts 7:21-22. That early training was to continue until Moses was about 40 years.
Rameses 11 had duck hunting lodges in the Delta where the Hebrews slaved. His daughter, one of about 60, called him "Moses" which means "Pulled out", because she pulled him out of the water. She also pulled him out of his own people. God was to pull him out of his occupation as a shepherd, pull him out from among the Midianites, and use him to "Pull out" the Israelites from Egypt. The very word "exodus" means "pulled out". vll-14.
When Moses was 40 years of age he was conscious of the difference between his own status and how "his fellow Hebrews were being treated." Acts 7:23. He saw an Egyptian kill a Hebrew slave. Moses killed the Egyptian hoping no one had witnessed his actions. Some Hebrews did. Fear forced Moses to flee across the Reed Sea to midian. The culture clash had come to a head. He had sided with the oppressed. Psychologists say this was the power of his roots. He wore Egyptian dress, but underneath beat a Hebrew heart. Heredity won over environnient. v15. So Moses fled to the desert of Midian where the Midianites wandered controlling the trade routes as do modern Bedouin.
The area was Arabah, hence "Arabia,' and "Arab". Like his fore-father Abraham, Moses had become a desert wanderer. But to what purpose? Moses was learning in the school of the desert. These present events were preparing him for later. It would be another forty years before those lessons would safely lead a whole nation through the desert from oasis to oasis.
At one oasis, Moses met one of the daughters of a tribal chief at the well. Only women would draw water at the well, for both sheep and the family. Moses saved the daughters from some camel herders intent on rape. v16-22. The girls told father Jethro, who roared: "Where is he? Why did you leave the man out there? Go and invite him to eat with us!" v20 So Jethro and Moses met, and sitting beneath the goat-hair tent, Moses learnt that Jethro descended also from father Abraham, of his fourth son midian. Moses stayed with them and learnt to survive in the desert where Israel would travel in 40 years time. Later, these Midianites became enemies of Israel so no later writer would have made up this part of the story!
Jews and Arabs call Abraham the Father of hospitality. Today, the Bedouin will invite you in, if you approach his tent. Every stranger is to be offered food, drink, and a bed for the night. The wells, the fire and the shade are to be offered to any visitor. The hospitality of the Bedouin is gracious and generous.
No man is to be refused water in the dry desert, or warmth from the freezing nights, or shade from the blazing sun. They will greet you, not with "What is your name?", "Where do you come from?" They say with a bow: "Ahlan Wa Sahlan," meaning "You are part of the family".
So Moses received hospitality, and in the years ahead found from among the daughters, his wife and mother of his family. But as a wandering herdsman in the desert, his first-class education seemed wasted. His management experience was not used. His leadership confined to leading goats. What a waste! But God was using the present events in his life for a later purpose! Moses was learning the desert tracks and oasis that would save his people.
How impatient we are. The people in Egypt were suffering. Moses would have been the only person in the whole of Egypt who had this preparation for his lifels work. How perfectly prepared! He was born a Hebrew and always felt his heritage in his bones. He saw the suffering of his people and was moved to intervene. He graduated in the highest Egyptian court in law and leadership. He identified himself with the oppressed slaves. He spent forty years in the wilderness learning how to survive there. Every part of the life of Moses was a preparation for later in life. Every event was part of his schooling. We impatient people cry: "Why am I just waiting? Consider: *Moses was 80 years old before his real purpose was fulfilled. *Moses found life in the living, not in the waiting. *Moses never realised the value of what he was doing at the time. *Moses discovered this life is a preparation for the next.
So with Jesus Christ. He spent 30 of his 33 years in a carpenter's shop working with wood. But those three years of ministry were enhanced by all he had learnt in earlier life. He learnt to understand the hurts and problems of people. He learnt how to take knarged and knotty wood and turn it into useful furniture. That became the basis for taking twisted lives and using them for good purpose. Even His sufferings on the Cross became part of His eternal blessing to others. The Book To The Hebrews says: "Because he was humble and devoted, God heard His prayers. Even though He was God's Son, He learnt through His sufferings to be obedient. When He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Hiffl." Hebrews 5:8
Your learning, your experiences, your sufferings are not wasted. The job you have now is part of God's plan for your future. The experiences you face now are moulding your character for future service. They are part of your preparation for something else God has in mind for you - in this life, or in the next. So live in faith. Obey God. Allow Him to be in command of your life. Look ahead with faith for that perfecting of the saints.
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