Dwight Fletcher | 'False starts can make us feel isolated'
Today we are talking about false starts. These often happen in life, but how does God respond to them and how should we?
As a nation famous for our sprinters, we are familiar with the concept of false starts. In sports, a false start is a movement by a participant before being signalled or otherwise permitted by the rules to start.
False starts are common in racing sports and happen when anxiety overtakes the athlete. In some sports, false starts can even disqualify the participant from the competition.
Just like in races, life is filled with misguided or unsuccessful attempts to begin something, and this can be based on our anxiety and impatience. Sometimes our false starts are about a legitimate need or desire, and when this happens, we can feel disappointed, demotivated and even disqualified from life.
Has this ever happened to you? The good news is that it's not the end. You can
restart! Moses is a good case study as we consider the false starts of life and the opportunities to restart. In the book of Genesis, Moses was born into hard and treacherous times. He had oppressed, enslaved parents and he himself was destined to die before he even had a chance to live because of Pharaoh's edict to kill all the Hebrew firstborns. Moses had a bad start but in the hands of God, his future was bright.
The same is true for us, even though the modern mind tends to be self-defeating and ready to give up if everything is not perfectly right from the start.
In Exodus 2, Moses'
mother made a basket, waterproofed it, and then she "...placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile..." vs 3-4, NIV. Pharaoh's daughter found Moses and adopted him as her own. So Moses was raised in the wisdom of the Egyptians. Yet God chose him to be the founder of the nation of Israel? You see, God's ways are above our ways.
Later, Moses, witnessing the abuse and oppression of his fellow Hebrews takes matters into his own hands and, as Exodus 12:12 NIV states, 'Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.' Moses had the right motivation, but wrong timing and method. His plans were not the
same as God's plan for the deliverance of the Israelites. Moses, eager to do great things for God, forced a situation that led to a personal disaster. He was trying to do God's will in his own way and according to his own timetable. That is the proble. Sometimes we understand God's will for our lives is but things are not happening fast enough to suit us, so we become anxious. We false start because we try to give God a hand.
From Moses, we can draw some useful truths that false starts lead to personal disasters such as:
a. Rejection and distress Exodus 2:13-14 NIV says, "The next day, he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, 'Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?' The man said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known'."
Moses thought that the men would recognise him as someone who was fighting on their behalf and anticipated their respect and compliance, but instead, they rejected his leadership asking instead if he would kill them.
Our application is that false starts often lead to personal trauma, emotional pain and distress. Many times, if we could take back what was done, we would. This sometimes stays with us for a considerable time because what we hoped would have lead to bliss turns out to be blisters.
b. Fear and anxiety "Then Moses was afraid and thought, 'What I did must have become known.'
It appears that Moses was right because, 'When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian...'
Moses became fearful and anxious because his secret was out. Pharaoh had found out and was now looking to kill him. Moses has moved from hero to villain in two days. The truth is that circumstances can change quickly and what we were sure about yesterday may not lead to the fulfilment we expected today.
c. Loss and isolation Moses had to flee to where Pharaoh could not reach him ó the desert in the land of Midian. He lost everything that he had built over the years. Everything he used to place his confidence in now seemed worthless or lost, and he was also isolated. Moses was cut off from his friends and relatives. He must have thought as he made the journey to the desert that his life was over, that God could not and would not ever use him again. But he was wrong, and it would take him many years before he realised this. Our losses might not be as dramatic, but our false starts often lead us to the same place as Moses ó in a desert where we are isolated and alone.
Life may seem hard, but God provides an opportunity to overcome the hardships through faith in Him. No matter what our starts are. They do not determine our future. Join me next week as I look at 'The School of the Desert' and how God can re-set and realign our lives to fulfil His purpose.