Around the world, in the past and at present (and likely in the future), youth has been and is celebrated, glorified, put in a pedestal and thought of as something extremely precious. The freshness and vibrancy, the innocence associated with youth, are looked back upon with fondness, for some, looked back upon with regret. Still others too, for whatever reason, look back upon it with anger and hatred – but the hatred is not directed upon youth itself; the hatred and anger is for whoever or whatever tainted, ruined or stole it.
The Ambitious, Promising Prince
Moses was young. He was brave and fearless. Having been educated and raised in the best of his time, he felt qualified and equipped. Knowing his qualifications and his promise, he aspired. He had ambition. He was at the peak of his youth. He was a leader. He wanted to lead his people! It was a noble ambition, if anything.
He was the epitome of youth, a manifestation of everything good about being young. Being young, however, also has its limitations, and Moses, quite unwittingly, succumbed to it.
He was brash and brazen. In a moment of youthful unabashed faux superiority, he exercised what he thought he had, and what most young people wish to have – authority – and he killed a man.
Then he lost everything. Are we not all like Moses? Unknowingly making decisions resulting to more weight and consequence than what we originally thought of?
The Old Shepherd
So he was stripped of everything, and he grew old. Next thing we know he has become a stuttering, shame-faced, lowly shepherd with an inferiority complex, smack in the middle of nowhere.
Why did God allow the young, strong, educated, potential-filled Moses reduced into that? Of course, from reading the succeeding chapters, we see how it was absolutely necessary to break him into pieces and turn him into nothing, so
God could turn him into the something He could use for His glory.
It is a Biblical truth echoed and reiterated throughout the Bible: God will reduce the proud to nothingness, because how else will He use them for His greater purpose?
God had to bring Moses to the lowest point and strip him of everything: his pride, his potential, even his seeming noble ambition, that is to lead the Israelites home. And we also know, from the amazing story of Exodus, how Moses eventually did become the leader he once aspired to become, but this time better and much wiser.
“We can approach God by making Him the means and everything else the end, or we can make Him the end, and everything else the means,” Tim Keller says.
Moses hid behind the seeming noble ambition of leadership, using God as the means to achieve it. His young, brash self made “leadership” the end, so God took it from him. When Moses finally learned, in the most painful circumstances, that God is, should be, and will be The Ultimate End, he then got to lead.
Seek first the kingdom of God, right? And then what? And all these things will be added to you.
Ironically (or maybe not), when Moses finally learned to seek and enjoy God, he then realized how much his previous desire paled in comparison to what he ultimately gained.
This strikes a chord in me because like the Egyptian prince Moses, I feel that all I have now is my youth, and the ambition and idealism normally wrapped up with it.
And yes, chalk it up to narcissism or whatever, but I really do believe in my potential. Immense pride? Check.
And that is what I have been struggling with the last few weeks.
It is a difficult, sad and pathetic confession to make: in a lot of ways and areas in my life, I have been using God as a means to various ends.
(Screencaps from The Bible Series, 2013)