When Netflix decided to spend about $100 million to produce their original series The Crown, they must have known the allure it would have among viewers. A dramatic portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension and early days of power, The Crown details the story of a royal family in the midst of transition. In it, King George VI has died and his daughter Elizabeth II has been tapped to take over. She will be leaving the comforts and normalcy of her life to take on a role that’s larger and more difficult than she could ever imagine. Her ordinary life will be replaced by an extraordinary calling.
Many of our stories parallel Elizabeth’s story (well, except for the rich and famous princess part!). We go about our normal lives, making choices, doing our jobs, and not suspecting that an enormous life change might be around the corner. Our stories look ordinary until we take on a role or a calling that we never expected to receive. This was Moses’ story too.
Moses was born into an Israelite family during a four-hundred-year period of enslavement in Egypt. Because the Egyptians were increasingly afraid of the Israelites, babies like Moses were targeted for extinction. To preserve her son’s life, Moses’ mother sent him down river in a basket so he could be discovered by an Egyptian woman who might have pity on him and take him in. Indeed, her hopes were confirmed and Moses, in God’s providence, was adopted and raised by one of Pharaoh’s daughters (Exodus 2:1–9). As a young adult, Moses fled from Egypt to Midian where he settled, married, and began a family (Exodus 2:11–22). The years passed by.
And then, forty more years passed (Acts 7:30). Moses, now nearing eighty years of age, was living his life peacefully and quietly as a shepherd in Midian. He probably thought that tending sheep was his final occupation. But God had greater plans in mind. One day, Moses stumbled upon a burning bush on Mount Horeb. This was no ordinary bush—it was on fire from the presence and power of the angel of the Lord (Exodus 3:1–2). The Lord spoke to Moses out of this bush:
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . . . I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey . . . Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (vv. 6–10)
Moses’ first response was one of shock and rejection: “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue. . . . Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (Exodus 4:10–13). But, in time, he began to embrace his calling to lead Israel to freedom, trusting in God’s faithfulness and power. Everything about Moses’ life changed as a result of his encounter with God in the burning bush. He gave up his life as a sheep herder and became a people herder. He relinquished his anonymity for a place of authority. He surrendered his oratorical skills, weak as they were, and watched God do miracles through him. And it all began when he was eighty years old. Sometimes our most powerful stories come when we least expect them.
The book of Exodus tells the rest of Moses’ story. It tells the highs and lows of Moses’ journey with God—a journey from an ordinary shepherd to an extraordinary leader. Let us never discount the power of our stories, even if, up until this point, they seem less than exciting. God is always at work. And, when we step back, we can see how God prepares us for exactly what He calls us into, even if that calling doesn’t come until we least expect it. Moses’ story reminds us that God is perpetually working—even in the mundane parts of life—to craft the perfect story for our lives, one that brings fulfillment to us and glory to Himself.