This post is part of a series for expecting parents. To see the full series, go here: Expecting Parent Reflections.
Finding God’s Will in our Circumstances
God uses the circumstances of our lives to enact God’s own will. We decide whether to align ourselves with that will, or to go our own way. Discerning that will is a calling for each of us, and our duty as parents is to help our children discern that will for their own lives too.
We often ask what God’s will for my life is. That is hard to determine on its own, apart from the circumstances of our lives. The mystery of God’s will is often hidden in the circumstances we’ve lived through – our struggles, challenges and difficulties.
Moses’ life was shaped before he was born
Moses’ life was shaped by circumstances long before he was born.
The background begins with the entry and settlement into Egypt of Jacob’s family. His family went to Egypt during a great famine. His favoured son, Joseph, had been sold into slavery in Egypt, but through God’s providence, he rose to great heights there, and eventually brought his family there. They settled and became very fruitful.
But now, many generations later, a new king has arisen in Egypt. He saw the Israelites as a threat. He thus oppressed them. When they continued to be fruitful, he tried to kill them. Into this context, Moses was born.
When we think of our own lives, are we complete masters of our own destiny? Do we build our lives from scratch on a blank page? The reality is that we have been shaped by the people and experiences in our lives. How have the people and experiences in your life shaped you?
The great theme: life vs. death
The great theme we see in this passage is the struggle between life and death. Pharaoh wanted to bring death to the Israelites. The Israelite people, the Hebrew midwives, and Moses’ mother fought for life.
Even before Moses was born, these two things would come to shape his life to come: (1) the struggle for life over death; and (2) Pharaoh. Pharaoh made the life of Moses’ people harsh. Pharaoh led Moses’ mother to hide him in a basket. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him. Pharaoh led Moses to be separated from his mother as a child. Living in Pharaoh’s court made him very confused about his identity – bred as an Egyptian with the blood of a Hebrew.
These circumstances shaped Moses. Within these circumstances came his unique calling to lead his people to freedom from the bondage of Pharaoh. He understood the ways of Pharaoh; he had the emotions of a Hebrew. For a while, he tried to run away from that calling by escaping to the peaceful pastures of Midian. But God found him at the burning bush and led him back.
Our life’s calling is to be found in our circumstances as well. So too will the life’s calling of your child.
What are your stories?
Whether we know it or not, our own stories flow into the next generation. What are your stories? What are your stories of struggle, of trying to find life against the forces of death? When did you face inner struggles with confidence, difficult circumstances, conflict with family or others, and forces that were holding you down? How did you deal with those challenges and try to overcome them?
Those are your stories, and just like for Moses, they will flow into your child as well. A great form of spiritual preparation for parenthood is to reflect on your own life stories and see how they shaped you. These stories are part of the legacy that you are bequeathing to your child. Your stories are God’s gifts to them.
So for this coming week, I challenge you to think about your own life stories and how you have been shaped.
I would love to hear some of what they are!