Have you ever gone on a family vacation, or on a road trip with friends and been lost? Have you ever been lost like that and realized that was one of the best parts of the trip because you discovered things along the way you would have missed had you stayed on your planned route? Sometimes, the detour is part of the journey.
Moses the Activist
When Moses was a young man, he believed it was his calling to be an advocate for his people. The Bible says “that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens” when he saw an Egyptian beating a Jewish slave (Exodus 2:11). Literally taking matters into his own hands, he killed the Egyptian. Because of that act, Moses was forced to flee from the presence of Pharaoh in order to save his life. He eventually found himself in the land of Midian where he met and married his wife Zipporah and settled into his father-in-law’s family business. It was a far cry from where he thought he was headed.
An “Unexpected” Detour
When Moses was a baby, he was adopted into the house of Pharaoh and raised as an Egyptian where he went to and graduated from Pharaoh University. He had degrees in science, engineering, technology and battle strategy to name a few. He was trained to be a leader of people. And now, here he was on the backside of the desert tending sheep, a profession that the Egyptians considered an abomination. After 40 years, Moses had probably resigned himself to his fate. “Yup. I’m a shepherd. I’m not the deliverer of Israel.” What he did not realize was that this detour in his life was part of his journey.
What good did the detour do him?
During those 40 years, he learned to shepherd a flock both literally and figuratively. He learned how to survive in the desert and he learned how to deal with the people who lived in the desert culture. Go to any region and it has its own culture. If you’re the outsider, it’s best to learn and respect that culture (minus anything that is contrary to Scripture) so that you can interact with it. Above all, Moses learned humility and to trust God for everything. The Bible tells us that Moses was the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3). When it came to crisis points in his leadership, he immediately bowed before God and asked for His help – with one notable exception: the time he smote the rock the second time (Numbers 20:10-13).
Ready to Return and do things God’s Way
It was not until Moses completed his 40-year detour that God could call to him from the burning bush to deliver Israel from Egypt (Exodus 3). The Pharaoh who wanted him dead had to pass off the scene, and Moses had to die to self. When God called Moses, he was reluctant to answer the call. After 40 years on the backside of the desert far removed from what he thought he was supposed to do, he’d lost confidence. Understandable, but God would not allow him to make excuses. His desert training was over and now it was time to be what God had trained him to be.
The detours that we sometimes find ourselves taking can be discouraging. They can cause self-doubt and make you think maybe you were wrong about the direction you were supposed to go. Moses thought the same thing until God helped him to see that the detour was part of the journey.