What’s your favorite genre of movie or book? When I think about what’s popular and sells well for entertainment, I quickly think about Marvel movies, spy or thriller books, along with murder mysteries or science fiction. Maybe we like to be excited and surprised, maybe we like a distraction from our day-to-day grind. While I know that some of us like such excitements and distractions, I also recognize that lots of us also find great comfort in routines and consistency.
I think that we bring these same perspectives or mindsets to our faith and walk with God. Some of us are mesmerized by the supernatural, and some of us are soothed by routine and predictability. When we think about our preferences, maybe it’s also helpful to consider what we don’t like. For those of us who like the supernatural and stuff that is exciting or thrilling, we may be repelled by routine and consistency. On the other side, for those of us who prefer stability and predictability, maybe we don’t like the supernatural or stuff that upsets our apple cart, so to speak.
Regardless of our appetite for the supernatural, routines, excitement or stability, let’s remain committed to growing deeper and more connected with God, with increasing intimacy, as a core priority in our lives. When I think about keeping intimacy with God as a central value, this reminds me of Moses and how his life played out. In the first eighty years of his life, he was rescued as an infant from being eaten by crocodiles and he grew up in Pharoah’s palace, where he was educated and well cared for, maybe even like one of Pharoah’s sons or grandkids. After forty years of a comfortable existence, complete with education and leadership training, Moses had to run away to the wilderness because he killed an Egyptian slave master. In the wilderness, Moses herded sheep for forty years. Maybe Moses’ palace years were all about creature comforts, and maybe his wilderness years were all about survival in more rustic conditions.
I imagine that Moses’ life had lots of days that were just “pick and shovel” days – the kinds of days that are just about getting daily stuff done, not exciting and just the mundane realities. Maybe his day-to-day existence consisted of laundry, looking after stupid sheep, building another campfire, eating the same thing, filling up his sheep bladder with water, yet again, getting his sheep to a brook of water and doing this over and over and over and over again for forty years – pick and shovel days.
I think that when Moses had the burning bush experience in Exodus 3, his life was interrupted in a really massive way, and I think the routine he had lived in for forty years of herding sheep was finished for a season. After the Ten Plagues in Egypt, the Red Sea miracle and the Mount Sinai encounter, it seems to me that Moses kind of settled back into the sheep herding expertise that he had developed years earlier since he was leading the Israelites for their wilderness years. More pick and shovel days, with people instead of sheep.
In the midst of Moses’ pick and shovel existence, leading the Israelites in the wilderness, he prioritized his intimacy with God, as we read in Exodus 33:11: “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. . . .” Maybe one of the best takeaways we can apply to our lives from Moses is that we prioritize our intimacy and connection with God regardless of whatever is exciting or stable in our lives.