What Moses teaches me about goal setting
and it's actually not the "number your days" part
In Exodus 14, the people of Israel were fleeing from the Egyptians and ended up trapped with the Egyptian army behind them and the sea in front of them. God intervenes in supernatural ways but partners with a person for the work.
God tells Moses, “as for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” God didn’t seem to pause for questions; He continues with a contrast. “As for me, I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory…”
The story packs in the action. The angel of God moved from in front of the Israelites to behind them; the pillar of cloud and fire went with the angel and kept the Egyptians away.
Moses stretched out his hand. The Lord drove the sea back. The Israelites crossed the sea on dry ground. The Lord looked down on the Egyptians forces from the pillar of fire and cloud. He threw their forces into confusion. He caused the chariots to be difficult to drive.
Then Moses stretched out his hand again and the sea returned. The Israelites were saved because their enemy was drowned in that same water that parted for their passage.
If you aren’t familiar with that passage of Scripture, you should take time to read it this weekend. The entire first half of Exodus is a roller coaster. But I’ve been stuck on Moses’ outstretched hands. Moses did two things in this story, well, one action two times: he stretched out his hand over the sea. God did all the rest of the action in that narrative. I’m quite convinced that stretching out hands and water moving in response is not a natural phenomenon so even in the one thing that God asked Moses to do, God was actually doing the work. He invited Moses to participate though. Why did He ask Moses to do that? Why not just do it without him?
Part of it is because God has always wanted to partner with people. That’s been His plan since creation when He placed Adam and Eve in the garden to continue His work and He remains firmly in that path. Even in new creation, we will reign with God. Part of it is because this helped the Israelites view Moses as their leader. It gave him credibility. I wonder what it did for Moses though. The text doesn’t tell us that part.
I look at vision casting or goal setting or any other term for this new year’s process as my holding out my hands.1 What has God asked me to do? What’s my part? At the same time, I want to be fully aware that things are changing and happening because God is at work.
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