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Posted by Elk Grove Presbyterian Church on Sunday, November 8, 2020
Exodus 2: 2-4
2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
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Moses is born and his mother is able to hide him at first. This makes sense, he is quiet, newborns sleep a lot, her close friends would keep the secret and she is able to keep him out of sight while closed off in their small home. Whatever it takes to keep his birth a secret, this is what Moses’ mother would have to do! But now Moses is a little older, 3 months old and we know what 3 month old infants are like. They start moving around more, making more noise, so surely his presence was starting to get noticed. I imagine her concern for his safety is growing more intense each day. I can’t imagine what this must have been like for her or the pressure she was feeling. We mothers, we’re attached to our babies even before they are born. Moses’ mother must have known from the moment she knew she was to have a child that this day would come, a day she would have to give up her baby. She must be desperate, desperate to find any way to keep Moses alive. The internal struggle to find a solution and a way out of the pending doom led her to plot a way to protect her infant son forever. But it was a solution that required a heart wrenching “letting go”: a letting go of a part of herself and letting go of a life she loved beyond loving.
So we know now how the rest of the story goes, she prepares this water-proof basket, places Moses in the basket and gently puts him into the water, hidden behind the reeds. But she is strategic in where she places the basket. Now what happens next might just seem like simple luck…the basket is placed close to where Pharaoh’s daughter comes to the water to bathe, and lo and behold she finds the infant Moses. Hearing his cry, she is drawn into the presence of this infant and desires to care for him, becoming his substitute mother until Moses is a grown man. I have been thinking about how Moses’ mother was so wise in her plan. She knew herself, her instinctive drive to care for her child and she knew the heart of a woman. Moses’ life is now secure, he is safe in the home of Pharaoh’s daughter.
It’s a beautiful story isn’t it? And that is what it is…a story. A story told over and over again throughout the generations, throughout time by faithful people recounting the history and the roots of the Israelites and their leader Moses. Did everything happen exactly the way it is described in scripture?
But more importantly, why? Why is this story so important? It’s not the specific details of the story at all, right? Did everything I just talked about and everything that scripture tells us happen exactly like it is written? Probably not…I hope this hasn’t devastated you! But this you must understand, whether the details are correct or not, this story is extremely important because it teaches us about real life, real difficult situations and the living God who is always working in the bigger picture. God working in the bigger picture so often beyond our sight, beyond our understanding and even beyond our own lifetime. Did Moses’ mother live to see him as a grown man, living in royalty and then leading the Israelites out of bondage? I don’t know. Her decision to place him in the Nile and let go of her care of him was not based on what she would gain in the future, it was based on what her heart knew was the right thing to do in the moment.
There are many important points to take away from Moses’ story of survival and his mother’s story of letting go? I think the most important reality to know and something we need to be reminded of, is that the journey of faith is a journey of “letting go”. Why has this story been recited for so many years? Because people at all times can relate to Moses’ mother…they can relate to the gut wrenching decisions we sometimes have to make. When I look out at you I wonder what your story are of “letting go” is? Every person has THIS story. Maybe your story of letting go is a story of a failed marriage, letting go of a toxic relationship, or maybe letting go of a child who must make their own way or maybe letting go of a dream that you always thought would become true.
Then there are those internal experiences we need to let go of; the wounds and pains of the past that keep haunting us, that keep reminding us of our frailties and keep holding us back. Maybe we need to let go of a harmful image we have carried around about ourselves for years, never letting the true “self” emerge. Maybe we need to let go of a loss and trust that God still wants us to live here and now. Maybe you need to let go of mistakes and trust that mistakes only lead to opportunities for growth. As Moses’ mother teaches us, letting go is part of life.
There is something else I have been pondering. What gave Moses’ mother the ability to give up her son and risk that it would all work out? That is a story in itself. What gives someone this strength? This resolve? She heard her own stories of the past, stories of a God who hears the voices of God’s people. She knew this God who spoke to her ancestors through dreams and hardships. She knew of the promises of God’s presence through all time! Moses’ mother teaches us, and we know too, whatever we let go of we let go of under the watching, loving eyes of God.
There are many, many things that we must let go of during our lifetime but the story underneath the “letting go” is the promise that God is still at work, meeting us at that exact place of loss and holding us together into the unknown future. And equally important to the “letting go” is the trusting that God’s at work and that in so many situations we will never, never know how our own “letting go” will blossom into new life changing possibilities! Lord help us to let go when we need to and be open to the new! Amen