A Murder, A Well, & Your Wilderness

Originally published Wednesday, 17 April 2013.

In my home, I’ve got a closet full of skeletons. They’re not notable ones to anyone else and they wouldn’t cause a fuss among the public or local law enforcement (praise Jesus) but they’re skeletons none the less. Mistakes I’ve made, words I’ve spoken carelessly, hearts I’ve wounded, and relational messes I’ve made hang in the dark and mock me from the shadows. As I pass by each morning and pray for the Lord to dress me in His righteousness alone, it’s all I can do to block out the haunting voices of my past sins.

How could the Lord still use me for His purposes?

It’s true;  I am a sinner who feels the weight of my transgressions daily and I’m tempted to assume I’ve rendered myself useless. Sure, there may be times I have the chance to speak a few words of affirmation to a friend or pray with someone from church who’s struggling, but God really using me?

Everyone still remembers all the times I’ve screwed up.

Two Hebrews remembered Moses’ transgression too. In Exodus 2:11 we see the grown man Moses and read as he kills an Egyptian he’d caught beating a Hebrew. Moses’ anger was justified but his actions were not; he sinned in his anger and killed the Egyptian. Afterward he’d hoped to cover his sin in sand by burying the body. Yet the very next day when addressing two fighting Hebrew men, his very own sin surfaces. “Do you mean to kill us as you killed the Egyptian?” they questioned him.

Ready to Run

How those words must have stung the heart of Moses. “What right do you have to correct our sin when you’ve committed the very same sin?!” I’ve felt the sinking feeling when my sin’s paraded out for all to see and I’ve felt the fear of fall-out. I’ve run for the hills to avoid my own shame.

Moses also felt the need to run. He remembered his sin and how he’d covered it and now he feared the wrath of Pharaoh. His fear was justified; Pharaoh would want to kill him for his crime. And so Moses gets the heck out of dodge and flees to Midian.

If Moses was anything like me, he probably wondered if God would ever use him again. Mourning sin is miserable when you’ve tasted God’s goodness. Not only was Moses cast out of the Egyptian life he’d always known and Pharaoh’s good graces, he was out of the sweet spot of obedience in the sight of the Lord. He’d acted harshly, committed murder, and now he sat by the well haunted by his own choices.

Franco Folini / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Ready to Redeem

As Moses sits, the priest’s seven daughters approach to draw water for their flocks. A gang of motley shepherds with no intention of playing nice come and attempt to drive the girls and their sheep away. But Moses jumps to their rescue, defends and saves the women, and waters their flock.

When the women arrive home, their father sends them back to the well to fetch Moses. The father welcomes Moses joyfully into his home, breaks bread, and honors him, Moses the murderer, for the way he graciously rescued his daughters.

“And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”"

God graciously redeems the time Moses spends in the desert, the place he’d fled to out of fear, and uses it to prosper Moses.

God Continues His Work

God’s plans for Moses’ life couldn’t be thwarted. Moses wasn’t worthy or wonderful; God’s plans for Moses’ life were. He intended for Moses to deliver the Hebrews from the hand of Pharaoh and lead them out of captivity into the promised land, in spite of Moses’ sin.

This story brings me such comfort. Knowing that even when I’m foolish, even when I sin, I can’t thwart God’s purposes for my life. God cares more about accomplishing his own plans and receiving his own glory than he does about leaving me to sit in shame and  learn my lessons in perceived seasons of wilderness. Even when I feel cast away, God is still working to redeem, still bringing beauty from ashes.

Whichever wells you may be sitting by today, it’s my prayer that you wouldn’t sit in self-pity and assume you’re out of commission. God is still using you for His purposes and His glory, even in Your wilderness.