When God Messes Up Your Life

Coffee

In my lifetime I’ve only ever been “let go” from a job 2 times. Thankfully, both of them were not my own fault and I was let go from the company because they no longer needed my position. I’ll never forget the 2nd time because it was one of the scariest times in my life. I worked for an amazing online school that was a dream job in a lot of ways. It let me work from home and, with my wife staying at home with our first baby, it let me spend a lot of quality time with them. It required a lot of hours and I was always attached to my phone but it was so great to be at home with them for those previous years.

Then, one day, I got the call I was dreading. The state had changed how they funded schools in Florida and as a result our school lost a lot of enrollments. I had watched over a few months how most of my team had lost their positions because there were not enough students to keep them. I received my call when I was helping my sister move into a new apartment. My principal called crying and let me know that as of that day I no longer had a position at that school. I didn’t do anything wrong but they just couldn’t keep me. Just like that it was all over.

At that moment, life stood still. I was bringing in the only income our family had and without it we’d be in big trouble. We had some savings but who knew how long it would take me to get another job. And if I did get a new position soon, how much would it pay? What changes would we have to make to keep our family sheltered and fed? Would my wife have to go back to work? All of these questions and more were rolling around in my mind as I lifted couches and moved boxes. It was all a whirlwind that I don’t remember much else about that day.

Looking back now, I could never imagine how God would use that time in our lives to teach us to trust Him and for Him to set us up for a much better life situation. I would not have been able to tell you where God was in the middle of that major struggle in my life. I was lost, confused, scared, and felt awfully alone. Yet, God used it all for His glory and none of it came as a surprise to Him. I am so grateful for what that season of our life brought (which I’ll talk about at the end) but the lessons I learned were worth the pain and fear. God had destroyed my comfort zone and He would use it in a mighty way I was unprepared for.

The question of ‘why’ is brought up so much in this world. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why did this person have to be killed in a car wreck when terrible people live in wealth and prosperity? Why do some people get to born in wealthy nations with good healthcare and opportunities when others are born in the most impoverished places in the world? Why does God allow some people to have their lives destroyed while others are given peace? That is a valid question and we will look at the life of Moses to find the answer.

Most of us know Moses as the Prince of Egypt who was the son of a Hebrew slave that was miraculously preserved and rescued as a baby by the wife of Pharaoh. He grew up in the palace to be used in the desert. God would use Moses to free millions of Hebrews from their captivity in Egypt and to create a new nation chosen by God. This nation (Israel) would be where Jesus the Messiah was born and would provide the opportunity of salvation to be received by billions of people throughout history. Moses was mightily used by God to accomplish great things but Moses was not the one who came up with this plan.

The book of Exodus informs us about the life of Moses. In it we see that even though Moses was raised as an Egyptian he had a heart for his own people, the Hebrews. When he saw a Hebrew slave being beaten by an Egyptian overseer Moses murdered the Egyptian and buried his body in the desert. Pharaoh found out about this and tried to have Moses killed but Moses fled to the land of Midian (cf. Exodus 2). Moses gave up his position of wealth, comfort, and authority to protect one of his own people. I imagine that he felt like he was doing the right thing and that he lost all that was great in his life in the process.

Despite all of this, Moses found peace and prosperity in Midian. He found favor in the eyes of the priest of Midian by rescuing his daughter from bandits and went on to marry one of his daughters. Moses had children and lived for 40 years in Midian as a shepherd. He had fled from Egypt and found a life of peace and had a family. Life was going pretty well for Moses who almost lost his life in Egypt. Even so, God stepped in and messed up Moses’ life by calling him to go to Egypt and performing miracles that caused Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from their slavery.

We have a habit of seeing the big picture when the read the Bible. We have the luxury of seeing the hand of God at work using people to accomplish His great purposes. We are not stuck in the place of those whose lives are written about on the pages of the text. Those people did not know how the situation would turn out and how God would take the good, bad, and ugly in their lives to accomplish His will. This is remarkably similar to our lives when we cannot see the hand of God at work in our circumstances and when our lives get messed up.

We often read and share the part in Exodus where Moses hears from God through the burning bush. We talk about Moses’ reluctance and his continual excuses. But put yourself in Moses’ sandals and imagine what was going on in his mind. Was it a dream? Did he have too much wine at dinner? Did his wife’s lamb kabobs mess with his head? Or did God really direct him to take his family and leave all that was secure in his life; leave behind his home and all he had grown to know over the last 40 years to go back to Egypt and probably die at the hands of Pharaoh? Look at this passage with me:

[18] So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”

“Go in peace,” Jethro replied.

[19] Before Moses left Midian, the Lord said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.”

[20] So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.  (Exodus 4: 18-20 NLT)

To do this took an incredible amount of trust in God. Moses was 40 when he fled Egypt and lived 40 years in Midian before God called him to go back to Egypt (cf. Acts 7). This meant he was an 80 year old man with grown children and perhaps grandchildren. He had established a home, a family, an income, a place of stability and comfort. Yet God was calling him to leave all of this behind and to trust that God knew what He was doing. We also know from the Bible that Moses would wander another 40 years in the desert with the nation of Israel because Israel did not trust God (cf. Numbers 32). Moses was over 120 years old and the 40 years in Midian were perhaps the most peaceful times in his life; yet God messed all of that up so that an entire nation could be rescued.

That is the application point of this entry and leads us to our Big Truth:

God’s Eternal Purposes are Greater than our Temporary Comfort

When Moses looked back at the end of his life I wonder how he felt towards God all that he had seen, heard, and done during his more than 120 years on the planet. Moses once had wealth and comfort in Egypt and he also had 40 years of peace in Midian. All of that was taken by God when Moses was called to deliver the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt. However, God did not stop there with Moses. God also called Moses to lead an entire nation made up of millions of people. Moses saw plagues, the first Passover, manna and quail come daily from God’s provision to feed millions of people, water come from rocks, and an entire sea parted so that millions of people could cross on dry ground.

I wonder when Moses looked back at his life when it was all said and done if he would have traded all that God did through him in order to go back to that time of peace in Midian? Would Moses have traded all the wonders he saw God do and the millions of lives God saved through him to have lived a life of comfort with his family as a shepherd in Midian? I believe Moses counted his final 40 years of trials, struggles, stress, and discomfort worth all that God was able to do and how Moses came to know God so personally that the Bible says Moses knew God like a man and saw Him face to face (cf. Deuteronomy 34).

This is what we have to ask ourselves when our lives get messed up by God: do we want to allow God to use our lives for his purposes or do we want peace and comfort? Are we willing to let God mess up our lives and take us out of our comfort zone so that we can know Him in a deeper and more personal way? Will we sacrifice our own personal desires in order to accomplish God’s purposes? If we want to know God like Moses did we have to be willing to sacrifice our own desires like Moses did.

Let me flash forward to the end of the story from my life that I started this entry with. After losing my position with that school God opened the door for me to go teach at another school that very week. I was only without a job for one week. How crazy is that? A couple of years after that God gave me the opportunity to become a school administrator which I never dreamed would happen in my area. As my girls got older and went to school I was able to be with them after school rather than working late into the evenings and taking phone calls all day. What was benefit to me when my girls were babies would have been a struggle when the got older. I believe God allowed that struggle to happen to set me up for a much better situation for my family all these years later.

Much more than that, I learned to trust God and to give up my own comfort and security to trust in His purposes. I learned that God allows storms in our lives to to show us who we really trust in and what foundation our lives are really built upon. I learned that God’s will is more important to my will and that my satisfaction in following Him is much deeper than my comfort. I hope that when you go through the storms and that when God messes up your life that you’ll remember the Big Truth for this week:

God’s Eternal Purposes are Greater than our Temporary Comfort

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