When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.
One of the mysteries of divine inspiration that strikes me as I inch my way through Exodus is why Moses wrote this account in third person chronicle form rather than as a first-person auto biography. Part of what I find so endearing about the Psalms, for instance, is that so many are composed directly out of David’s anguish, as an immediate reaction to Saul hunting him down, or as a bled-out confessional following his adulterous liaison with Bathsheba, so we get to feel the emotions that underline each event as it unfolds. The same is true for the book of Job. We sit with Job in the ash heap; we hear the strain in his wife’s pitiful voice as she begs him to curse God and end it all. Yet, we rejoice with him in that moment of insight, as Heaven’s light invades the enveloping darkness with the thought, “I know my Redeemer lives!” Paul’s epistles do this as well. He doesn’t write like some unfeeling, super-saint. He writes as a fellow pilgrim straining toward heaven, calling himself the ‘chief of sinners,’ speaking of his spiritual achievements as ‘dung’ in comparison to Christ’s righteousness, crying out “Oh wretched man that I am!” in his desire to do better. And that sort of transparency shows us that we’re not alone, that even psalmists and apostles grow tired and weary, that even great saints get doubtful and discouraged at times. So I wish Moses could’ve given us a little more here. I wish God had included a few scribbled-out psalms in the margins of this pivotal moment. Because, for the first time in his life, Moses is completely alone, with no prospects of a future, with no place to call home, and with no clue as to what he’s supposed to do next. And I’d give a lot more than a penny to know what spectrum of questions and feelings are screaming in the silence as he sits down by this stranger’s well in the middle of nowhere to try to make sense of it all.
But here’s the truth, friend: no matter what Moses thinks and says in this wilderness, God is too faithful to leave him there for good. And that’s the takeaway we need most.