Enthusiasm can be misleading especially for ministers.
It is so tempting to promote the victory of Christianity without warning of the cost: to broadcast the glory exclusive of the pain.
“Become a Christian and live happily ever after,” we too quickly say but fail to explain what ever after means.
Two seminary students went door-to-door sharing their faith. At one house they walked through a gauntlet of screaming children and barking dogs. A tired mother opened the door. “We would like to tell you how to obtain eternal life,” they said.
She hesitated then looked around at all the chaos surrounding her for a moment before she replied, “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t believe that I could stand it!”
I don’t know many examples of people who lived happily ever after.
I don’t know of many people who didn’t go through times of defeat and failure. Do you? At times we let down our family, our church and yes… we even let down God. Have you felt that way? Sure you have!
In the Bible you will find the experience of failure is often where God teaches unforgettable lessons. The heroes of scripture are actually ordinary human beings who become heroic because God teaches and uses them despite their flaws.
Would you like an example? How about Moses?
Moses? Wasn’t he God’s man who rescued his people from Pharaoh? Didn’t he part the Red Sea and receive the Ten Commandments? Wasn’t Moses Charlton Heston? As a baby, he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as an Egyptian noble with the best education available.
For the first forty years of his life, Moses literally had it made.
So, what happened?
In exodus we read: “Moses went out to visit his people, the Israelites and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.” (Exodus 2:11-12)
I am sure Moses thought he did something good — but he didn’t.
Moses likely thought he had now won the respect of his people. He hadn’t.
Maybe he imagined that this was the time God had predicted for him? It wasn’t.
In fact the Bible would go on to say that Moses was scorned by his own people and in a matter of days he was forced to flee for his life, an utter and complete failure.
Moses? He doesn’t sound much like Charlton Heston now.
For the next forty years, Moses would hide out in the desert as a lowly shepherd.
Where did Moses go so wrong?
- He committed murder. You don’t cheat on your taxes and then give a portion to God.
- Moses did it his way not God’s way. Moses looked around but he never looked up.
- Spiritual leadership only comes from God so you can never just reach out and grab it.
- Burying your mistakes in the sand never erases them; it only postpones the discovery.
So Moses spent forty years in the desert contemplating his blunders and wondering what might have been if only —
Wait! This would all be depressing if we didn’t know how it ended. But we know at the tender age of eighty, God called Moses from a burning bush to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. This time Moses was ready to listen and rely upon God and the rest is — history.
Yes, the life of a Christian promises exciting times on the mountaintop as well as painful lessons learned in the desert. Maybe you’ve been there recently and you’re still feeling the hot sand burning beneath your feet.
Yet, God has not forgotten you and may be preparing a burning bush for you right now.
Whether you are eight or eighty, God is never absent. Such is the real promise of “ever after.”
Andre Crouch wrote it best:
I’ve had many tears and sorrows. I’ve had questions for tomorrow. There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong! But in every situation, God gave blessed consolation that my trials come to only make me strong.
Through it all; through it all; I’ve learned to trust in Jesus. I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all; through it all; I’ve learned to depend upon God’s word.