This is the first segment of a series. I don’t yet know how many writings this topic will turn into, just that it is very present to me these days. Thank you for joining me in this journey!!
I’ve been really intrigued lately by the notion of a “call”; specifically, God’s call for our lives. In the Bible, a “call” is God’s invitation into relationship to restore unity and spread love. God always initiates but leaves the responding to us. When we are born, God gives us a particular identity and sets us on a particular course. We are endowed with abundant gifts which enable us to fulfill the purpose for which we were born. So what happens? I mean, I certainly did NOT live this authentic, purpose-driven life until fairly recently and, truth be told, still struggle to live it out today. So what is this call about and why is it so hard to hear? Let’s see if the story of Moses can lend some insight into these questions.
We don’t know a lot about Moses’ early life, the Bible only gives us a handful of verses. We do know that Moses was born into a Hebrew family and that his mother hid him among the reeds to save him from being killed. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and took pity on him. Desiring a son, she adopted him into her family. But first he needed to be weaned so she gave him back to his mother to be nursed. After several years, Moses was returned to the Princess where he grew up and prospered. Let’s pause there.
Moses was born into a Hebrew family and ended up living as part of that family for several years. His first identity, bestowed upon him at birth, was nurtured by those tasked with raising, protecting and caring for him during those vulnerable years. Wrapped in the security of his family, he came to know who he was as one of the chosen people of God. At the point he was “returned” to Pharaoh’s daughter, he already had a name and an identity. Now, we aren’t told his birth-given name, Scripture makes a point of noting that Moses wasn’t the name given to him by his mother. But surely his family called him by a name, by a treasured identity, which held significance. Then everything changed.
When the child grew up, [his mother] brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, because, she said, “I drew him out of the water.” (Ex 2:10)
Moving to the palace, Moses acquired a new name and began a very different life. Rescued from poverty, he grew up in opulence. No longer a slave, he received the best education and guaranteed status. Rising in the ranks of the Egyptian royalty, he was assured of a bright future. He grew up as an Egyptian, lived as an Egyptian, and thought of himself as Egyptian. Ignoring his Hebrew identity, Moses lived into a completely different culture, value system, and vision of the future. In many ways, as his name change foretells, he grew into a person vastly different than his birth identity.
Can you see all the parallels between Moses’ life and ours? We are born with a specific identity as beloved children of God and endowed with particular gifts to bring forth God’s calling for us. These gifts are nurtured and cultivated by family and friends; we are loved, cheered, challenged and encouraged to be kind, loving and compassionate. In the early years of our lives, the foundation is laid for us to live out our calling through the unfolding of our lives.
As long as we remain in the embrace of our first family, our authentic selves thrive. But about the time we head off to kindergarten, slowly but surely different voices begin to attract our attention. Like barnacles attached to a ship’s hull, roles and expectations hook into us, covering our original identity. We start conforming to friends, classmates, teammates, cliques, school and work cultures. Slowly, quietly, as we build our lives, societal and cultural expectations take over. The tasks of our life become building a career, starting a family, owning/maintaining a home and developing our social, cultural roles. In a myriad of undetected ways, our belief systems and outlook on life begins to align with the dominant culture and we succumb to the “isms” of the world. We get so caught up in worldly things, worldly events, that we don’t even realize we have lost sight of depth and meaning in our lives. We lose sight of who we are, the real, authentic us beneath all the roles and identities we have taken on. We have moved into the Pharaoh’s palace and have gotten caught up in the excitement, temptation, and indulgences of that lifestyle.
For me, I went to college, started my first career (one of many), bought a house, got married and built a life. I was convinced I was going to be wealthy and successful and leave the poverty and abuse of my childhood behind. When I didn’t succeed in one place, I quickly moved on to another confident that my smarts and resourcefulness would carry me. This version of myself left little room for compassion, humility or love. Somewhere along the way, I became so caught up in who I wanted to be, who I thought I was supposed to be, that I completely lost sight of who I was created to be.
But like Moses, the echo of our first identity never really leaves us. Moses never forgot his Hebrew roots – in fact, when he saw an Egyptian beating one of his kinsmen, Moses murdered him, thus ending whatever bright future he might have had in the Pharaoh’s kingdom. Fearing for his life, Moses fled into the wilderness.
Something drastic had to happen or Moses would never have left the palace. Moses would never have left the comfort and security of the palace without some major, cataclysmic event forcing a move. So it is with us.
Something really drastic has to happen to wake us up, to show us that who we are isn’t really who we wanted to be, and that we need a major course-correction for our lives. The trigger could look like divorce, a serious illness, death of a significant person, loss of a job and/or career – something so significant that it rattles us to our bones, in our deepest self, down into the soul. For me, my life had to completely fall apart before I woke up. Everything I believed about myself and my world shattered and fell into a million pieces around me: my marriage was failing, my career dead, my family estranged, and my friendships broken. I was full of anger, resentment, and bitterness and blamed everyone I could for all that had gone wrong – everyone except myself. Until one day I finally gave up, finally surrendered and fell into what felt like a pit of darkness.
Something has to break within us; we don’t or can’t make this move voluntarily and rarely without a whole lot of resistance. Why would we? It is far too comfortable a place for us to leave unless we are forced to. But something has to move us out of our palace and into the desert if we are to live out God’s calling for our lives.
If you are interested in exploring this in your own life, join us for our Teacup versus Tea: What is Your Cup Filled With? retreat. See below for details. (You can also register here.)
Next segment: Moses in the wilderness and his encounter with the burning bush.
Kelly is the Director of A Place To Be Spirituality Center. Here she shares her thoughts and reflections about life, family, God, spirituality and whatever strikes her in the moment. We hope something here resonates within your own spirit and that you will share. Enter into the conversation, share your story, join the family of A Place To Be, a spiritual home for seekers wherever they are on their journey. We look forward to getting to know you!
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