If at first you don’t succeed…

“Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”” (Exodus 5:22–23 ESV)

If I don’t immediately pick it up, its very rare that I will work at something to get good at it. I’m not proud of this. After my first time scoring in the wrong basket in the second grade, I decided that basketball wasn’t for me. Batting fourteenth on the worst baseball team in the league and having a total yardage of -3 in football (yes, my total yards gained was NEGATIVE 3), had the same effect on those sports.

We live in a culture that no longer values patience, endurance, and suffering for the sake of a greater gain. My sports history is a great example. If things don’t happen fast, if something is not an overwhelming success, if it does not come easily to us, efforts are quickly abandoned and redirected into something else.

When Moses went to Egypt, he was not met with immediate success. After boldly going before Pharaoh with his brother Aaron, asking him to let the people of Israel go, Pharaoh decides to make the lives of the Hebrew a living hell. Moses, instead of being the savior of Israel from the grips of Egypt, became the catalyst for their suffering. Moses’ whole project backfired.

If this were to happen in America, I can see Moses and Aaron taking a step back, sending an apology to Pharoah for the inconvenience, holding a board meeting to rethink the strategy, voting on abandoning the project in Egypt in order to find a lost people group elsewhere in the world with a more compliant ruler, and leaving the Israelites where they are. They would probably send a thank you/explanation note to all the investors telling them that although they were confident going into Egypt that the work was the will of God (the burning bush and all), the opposition from Pharaoh is a clear sign that God’s will has changed and their efforts are needed elsewhere. They would sell their office space to try and reclaim enough of the money to provide an adequate severance package for themselves, and then they would move on.

Doing God’s work is hard. It is usually met with opposition. It almost always takes longer than expected. According to a recent survey on church planting statistics, it was found that only 68% of church plants survive beyond the fourth year. According to this same survey, they found that the leading cause of church plants failing was an unrealistic expectation of fast success.

I hope that I don’t desert ministry the way I deserted sports growing up. I hope that I don’t run in the other direction the first time something doesn’t come naturally to me. And I hope we would all be committed to the long haul that Christ calls us to in order to save that which has been lost.

Lord Jesus, I pray that we would endure and suffer as you did!

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