Sunday, 27 November 2016

Is it Biblical to DO or GO to Church?

I heard a preacher say just recently as he was speaking in a bigger church building and talking about the old smaller building they used to meet in…."how did we ever DO church there?”

I know it was just a throw-away line, but I got stuck on it. Language is a powerful thing and I couldn't help but ask, “Is it even Biblical to DO Church?” In fact is it even Biblical to “GO to church?” 

I know in some ways you might feel it is petty arguing over semantics, but it brings me back to the way we define church?  We must be challenged to keep coming back to the Bible and aligning ourselves consistently to HIs truth.

Our definition of the church helps us to understand if we are called to DO church or even GO to church. 

When I looked up the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the Church, I was shocked.  It said “a building used for public Christian Worship.” So here lies our problem. We have let the world conform us instead of the consistent renewing of our mind from God.  This would be the first thing that rolls off all our tongues when asked “What church do we GO to?” or “Where do you DO church?” The most common answer is to state a building or a denomination.

Again, you may say I am arguing over simple semantics. We all know what we really mean, but do we? There is something we have seriously lost when the world believes that the “church” is a building and when Christians believe that to “DO” church is to go to one Sunday meeting a week. We need to recognise when our language is not helping our own faith walk as well as the “light” we are called to be to the world. 

The word “church” in the Greek is ekklesia, which simply means “called out people.”  The church is His people, the body of Christ (Eph 4:4, 1 Cor 12:12, Col 1:18). We are called to be His Temple here on earth (1 Peter 2:4-8), living stones to be built up as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), with Jesus as a cornerstone (Eph 2:19-22).  We are His bride (Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25), the one He gave Himself for, that He might present Her to Himself a glorious Church, holy and without blemish. Christ doesn't have a harem of all different churches that we can choose to GO to. He has ONE church; His church, his bride, a called out people, called to be HIs light in the world (1 Peter 2:9, John 1:4). 

So, I ask again is it Biblical to DO church, 
or is the Church called to DO? 
It is Biblical to GO to church, 
or is the Church called to GO?

I believe our language, as subtle as it is, has confused things over the years.  It has caused us to change, or I would say at times, lose focus of what we as the CHURCH are called to do, challenged to be, what our daily life must look like and what it means to BE the church to a world that is lost. I am not saying that we are not called to gather together and build each other up as the Body of Christ because, being together as ONE body is vital to be a strength in this world. (Hebrews 10:25). We are limiting God’s plan when the definition of “Church" for many Christians is ONLY “a building used for public Christian Worship” (Oxford Dictionary). We are limiting God’s truth when we simply talk of GOing to Church or DOing Church rather than BEing the Church in the world.

When we really seek the Biblical truth and it gets into our heart, it has the potential to change everything. As God renews and transforms our minds to His truth, what would it change for you to change your language to … being a “called out people" who GO and DO as the Church in this world. Is that more a biblical view of the “Church”?  How would that change what you DO and where you GO today?  

For me it changes everything. Church is not where I GO or what I DO. I am the Church, wherever I am, whether two or more are gathered. I long to be a light in the world that shines towards Christ, in my marriage, my parenting, my friendship, when I walk along the road, when I go to the shops, in the way I spend my time, my gifts and my resources, when I post on social media, when I sleep and when I wake and even when no-one sees me. I am a “called out person” desiring to be His light to a hurting world.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Actions Speak Louder than Words.

There’s a lot to take in when you visit India for the first time. The colours, the sounds, the crowds, the traffic, the food, the smells, the culture.  A clear standout when in India is the hospitality and friendliness of the people. Everyone smiles, wants to help, wants to do everything for you and is eager to care for you. People want to serve you, even to the point of standing over you to put food on your plate. They don't allow you to do anything; carry a bag, move something, make yourself anything. At first it was overwhelming, as I realise how independent I am, and then I sat back and thought … “this is a beautiful quality to have as a whole nation”. 

It is not just the people who know you, it is perfect strangers.  We walked into a village and the elder of the town, a wealthy, busy Hindu man was not happy to simply say “hello.” We went into his house, his wife and mother fixed us tea and coffee and snacks and we had a lovely chat. The times we spent in peoples’ houses and having tea and sweet snacks was amazing.  No one is ever too busy to stop and chat and have a drink together. I know you might think this was because we were westerners, but as I watched people everywhere, it was something most people were doing. It really is a part of their culture. In a busy, bustling town this slower pace of priority of relationships, drinking and eating and chatting together was very key. 

After 4 days, I was getting used to it and allowing time in all we had to do each day, knowing that this was going to be a part of our everyday. I was starting to learn to account for it, expected it even. We had had 2 full days of Ministry by then and it was all going really well, as we met so many beautiful and passionate Christians. Which is probably why, on day 5, I was taken aback with an experience I had. 

I felt privileged to be asked to speak in a Bible College as they are the future Pastors and Leaders and this is great opportunity to talk about children, families and doing life across the generations. To be able to spend the whole day with college students, training and doing some workshops with them, is a wonderful opportunity. The day began with Chapel. They asked me speak for 25 minutes and share something inspirational with all the college students and lecturers. I gave it my best and yet very quickly I knew that it was going to be hard work.  There was very little response and everything about the environment felt a little rigid and formal, two things I am not.  Straight afterward, we had been asked to join the lecturers in the lounge for morning tea. 

As the whole team (there were 5 of us) walked in, we were ignored. The lecturers and teachers were in one corner and there was an uncomfortable silence in the room as we quietly made ourselves a cup of tea, hoping that was an okay thing to do.  It was a shock to the system, as I was just getting used to be always overwhelmed by such open friendliness and conversation. Here was a group of Christian leaders who were teaching the next generation about how to share the Good News to their world, and they literally pretended we weren't in the room. I could understand it a little bit more if it was just me, a woman (although there were women lecturers in the faculty), but I had my husband beside me and they ignored him as well. It was all very uncomfortable. I decided to be bold and try to approach a few people and make conversation, but it was very cold. We couldn't wait to get out of there.

It didn't upset me. It was just a shock in the light of the past 4 days.  But it did remind me a little of how Jesus must have felt when he was near the Pharisees in His day. It was a very sad reflection on “Christian Leaders.” For the remaining time in India I never experienced this at any other event  or ministry opportunity we were a part of. I know this is not just something that would happen in India, as it is something I have often experienced across the Christian World in a number of countries. 

For me, again it was a personal reminder and challenge of who we are called to be, how we are called to reflect His love to everyone and the importance of being welcoming and loving, even if we don't always agree with the other person. I don't want to sound judgmental, as I know I must always work at being more open, loving, accepting and friendly. It reminded me that our actions do really speak louder than words. 

R Rohr says, “Education is different from transformation. You can have three PHD’s and still be in the Kindergarten of enlightenment”

We must never feel so educated, intelligent, superior, right or even too busy that we cannot be willing to smile, offer a kind word and at least be polite. Surely this is the beginning of being the light of the world?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Stop yelling at me

It is always a great day when your son comes and asks for “help”. It is a sad day when you realise that just when you think you are helping, you are actually failing.

I could see my son shut down as I thought that I was answering his question and helping him. Here I am, thinking I am giving such good advice and something he really needs to hear, because, if he is asking for help, he must be willing to hear what wise counsel I have for him. But no, instead he is zoned out and then became quite withdrawn.  I could see I wasn't helping. 

No matter how I tried to backtrack, say it differently, it didn't matter, he was gone (in his mind anyway). 

Suffice to say, the night didn't end well and we all went to bed feeling a little down.

The next morning I went into him to ask him how he was feeling, as I knew how I was feeling and it wasn’t too positive. I love my son and hate to think we are not on good terms.

asked him "what was not helpful about last night" and he said, "well, I wanted your help and all you could do was yell at me”. This confounded me, as there was no yelling, not even a heated conversation or harsh words, from what I could I remember, unless I missed something or blocked it out. It is not that, that hasn't happened many times, regretfully, but I was certain that this wasn't the case last night. 

As I have reflected later, there was definitely no yelling.  Yet it made me think that communication is an interesting thing. Here I think I am talking and yet my son feels like I am yelling. It didn't matter if it was because he didn't want to hear what I had to say. It didn't matter if what I had to say was completely helpful. It didn't even matter if it was the truth. What matters is that all he heard was “yelling”. 

When I thought I was trying to empower and challenge, Sam heard judgement and that he wasn't doing well enough. 

When I thought he was asking for my help regarding “big picture thinking”, he was asking for some “little practical keys” to help him get started. When he asked for help I thought he wanted to talk about it, when all he wanted was for us to practically do it together. 

So what could seem loving, even wise counsel to one person can simply sound like yelling to another. That is the scary part about communication. 

Richard Rohr in his book “Falling Upward”  talks about the fact that….. 

“from your own level of development, you can only stretch yourself to comprehend people just a bit beyond yourself. Some theorists say you cannot stretch more than one step above your own level of consciousness, and that is on a good day."  (2011)

The irony of our conversation was that the help Sam wanted was about an assignment he had to write, on “How to bring about change and what a leader must do well to help that process?” 

Whoops……fail !!

If only I could have stepped back out of the conversation at the time and been able to do it so differently we may have had a different outcome. It takes good leadership to do that on the run, assessing as you go as to what someone needs to help them make changes, and that's of course when two people are actually on the same page. It is even harder when they are poles apart. Both Sam and I had the same desired outcome, we just missed each other completely. 

We re-grouped in the morning and worked out a plan forward. And eventually I was able to help him. 

But we both learned a little bit more about the kind of communication and listening that is required to actually help others and bring about change. Let’s hope he does better in his assignment than I did that night!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Focusing on the IF to see clearly

The last few years I have had to wear glasses for reading and close up work. I had what they call "20/20 vision" until I was a 45 years old. I now know that it has been a blessing. So, the whole “clean glasses" thing is new to me and seeing clearly is something I have much more respect for. Again, it is not until you have to experience something yourself that you really can learn from it. 

I am amazed how easy it is for your glasses to get dirty and how seeing through a “sploch” or a mark on your lense can be frustrating and yet how easily you adapt to the skewed view if you are not careful. Maybe because I am taking them off and on all the time it is more challenging, but either way it is a constant adjustment and one that makes me appreciate “clear" vision more and more.  There are times when I just put up with “blurred” vision, because I can’t be bothered cleaning my glasses again or I can’t be bothered taking the time to adjust my view to see clearly. Like many I suspect, it is only when I cannot see at all, that I will make the changes required. It requires more effort to see clearly, but it is worth it in the end and when my lenses are perfectly clean (which I have yet to find an easy way to do), it makes a real difference. 

I am amazed how many people publicly post "out of focus" photos. Photography can reveal so many things, when you look more closely at something that looks OKAY at a distance but when you zoom in, it is out of FOCUS or at least blurry. 

I think about this when I read the Bible. When I read something that is not clear, and is actually frustrating, I have the choice to roll over it and forget it or actually stop and make the effort to really understand what it is saying, to make the effort to try and see clearly what message God is trying to teach me.  I realise that looking through dirty glasses, or blurred vision, or even being out of focus is very easy.  It is the reason why there are so many interpretations of the Bible and I know it will be something we all have to continue to work at our whole lifelong faith Journey. 

Ephesians 1: 18 (The Message) 
I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Just recently I was reading in Numbers, the story of the talking donkey. I read over these chapters again and at a quick read I was puzzled as to why God seemed to be changing his mind and sending mixed messages to Balaam. 

Numbers 22:20 (NIV) 
That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”

Numbers 22:22 (NIV) 
“But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”

Within the space of 2 verses, God seems to be saying you can go with them and then He changes and seems to be very angry that Balaam went. Here is where, if we are not willing to delve a little deeper, question, clean our focus and ask God to help us see clearly, that we can easily get confused, disappointed, doubtful and even cynical, or worse use it to justify our own behaviour all in the name of God. If God can change his mind, then can I trust Him? 

I am thankful for different versions of the Bible and for scholars much smarter than I, processing and asking these questions that I can lean on when I can’t seem to make sense of something. All I am required to do is question, take the time, clear my focus and ask for God’s focus in all situations. 

It is amazing how one little word can make all the difference and to focus on this helped me understand so much more about this story. The NIV version of Numbers 22:20 seems to have lost a little in translation as it has replaced “IF” for “Since”. Digging a little deeper showed me that God was not happy with being asked again the same question, after He had already given His answer. I know as a parent when I have answered the question but the kids keep coming back, hoping I would change my mind, I must admit I feel a little angry as well. Sometimes I dig in and feel stronger about saying NO, and yet other times I give in and hope that they learn the lesson another way. But we are human and God is God, so something else is going on here.  

Numbers 23:19 
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind” 

He is not changing His mind, He was testing Balaam and Balaam clearly hears what he wants to hear and does what he wants to do anyway.  So the men do not come to Balaam, because he doesn't give them a chance to.  He doesn't wait for that, but eagerly packs up his stuff and heads off with them. Oh, the times when we are guilty of that, hearing what we want to hear, knowing deep down  we shouldn't be doing something, but hoping God will be gracious and bless it anyway. 

Balsam is so blind to what he wants to hear, whether it be for the reward that has been promised, the adventure that sounds fun, the desire to be wanted, the chance to get some attention. Either way, it seems that when his donkey starts talking to him along the road, his desire to do this trip blinds him to the fact that maybe God is trying to talk to him or warn him or even challenge him!  No, Balaam is just angry that the donkey is making this journey difficult. 

You can see how the little word “IF” now has even more power. It changes the whole story, the whole focus. "IF" he WAS doing what God wanted, then this trouble with the Donkey could be interpreted with God being a liar, someone who changes his mind, someone who plays with us and sends mixed messages. But, because of the word “IF”, it shows that God is trying to get Balaam’s attention as to who is really in control. “What are you really doing this for? What is your real motivation? And guess what?. I am going to use this for MY good even though you have not obeyed my commands. The angel finally gets Balaam’s attention, as the Bible says “The Lord opened Balaam’s eyes” (Numbers 22:31) and helps him to see clearly, to get God’s focus. Balaam now knows, embarrassingly so, that God will use this situation for His Glory, and not for Balaam’s gain. 

So, Balaam now with a clear focus serves God’s purposes and blesses God’s people, much to the disgust of Balak and without personal gain for Balaam (Numbers 24:10-14).

As we ask God to help us see clearly what He wants to teach us, I am reminded to take the time to go deeper and seek His truth. I am challenged to make sure my focus is cleaned regularly, for fear that like Balaam, I might NOT settle for seeing only what I want to see, hearing only what I want to hear and using God’s truth to justify my own behaviour and desires. I am encouraged to see that like Balaam, when I do lose focus, God will graciously forgive me and can still use my mess ups for His glory. I love the reminder that God cares for us so much that He will use anything to get our attention, even a talking donkey, and pray I may not be so blinded like Balaam, that when that happens I can see it for what it is, God trying to get me to FOCUS on HIM. I am challenged that a little word like “IF” can make all the difference to gaining focus on His TRUTH. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

It's Impossible!

I have a loft office, which is so wonderful, and I have to admit there are many days I don't want to come down from the loft to do menial things like cook or tidy the house.  The challenge with a loft office, with a beautiful winding wooden staircase up to it, is furnishing it.  I got a second hand desk this weekend, which was very exciting, until we thought of the practicalities of getting this large “L” shaped desk up the winding stairs into my office.  There were 4 guys (the brawn) and me, and I must say there were a few in the party who thought it was an impossible task. Once we realised it didn't come apart, it was either try the impossible or take the desk back.  

I must say, I do love a challenge, a task that seems impossible. I love giving it a try, especially when someone says it can’t be done. I planned to be the photographer and capture whatever was about to happen, as I was ready for anything, but that was not to be so as we needed all hands on deck. 

It might be hard for me to describe to you, to impart the full impact of this task, but I will give it a try. When the boys first walked in, they thought we were mad for even considering the task, and like most things if it is not your own experience, the impact is not there as it was for us. 

It’s a funny thing when you are faced with what seems an impossible task. It is interesting to see different people’s reaction to the problem.  We all worked together well and listened to each other, there were many silly comments flying around, ropes being tied to places and many theories being discussed. We finally decided to give it a go and use the open cavity that a winding staircase creates to lift the desk into, balancing it and sliding it all the way up on the railings. (Note to self - when sliding a heavy desk along a wooden railing, best to put towels or something to protect the wood. Oh well, just the beginning of the casualties that were about to occur). 

Once we had reached the limit of the boys’ arms, standing on chairs, on the lower level, to hold the desk in the free airspace, there was a little element of panic. We had navigated the first corner and now had the desk balancing on the railings, hanging in the air with no way to hold it from underneath, which left a couple of us on the second level holding it from above. It was now wedged in the air, with someone tying it off against the railing, and we still had another 180 degree turn to do with an “L” shaped desk. It was literally like playing the game of “Tetris.”  I was wedged in the corner, holding my end and thought if I could open the window, and stick my end out of the window, it might make more space for turning, I pulled the screen off, it dropped to the ground and I opened the window to get a little movement, but it was not enough. 

I could see the scrapes on the walls, the dents in the railings and my husband with sweat pouring down his face and a look of “this is not going to happen”.  My son was getting some tools to take off a part of the railing and the rest of us were all simply holding the desk so it didn't fall to the floor below, taking out the railings and Dave’s little wine cellar directly below us.  It is in these moments that what we do next really counts.  How do we handle this situation? What next?  I must say while Sam was taking off the railing, it gave us all 5 -10 minutes break. Although we were still holding the desk, it wasn't heavy, and we were all able to take a breath, give it some space, think a little and even laugh a little about the situation we had got ourselves into.  I quickly asked someone to take a few pictures, as I knew a blog was forming out of this experience, whatever the outcome.

At this stage putting the desk back down was going to be just as challenging as trying to turn it. Considering the situation, we were all quite calm on the outside. I would have loved to know the thoughts of everyone. I think I know the thoughts of my husband, though not sure if I would have liked to hear them out loud at the time.  But for me, I was standing there, thinking, “we can’t go back, we have come so far, there has to be a way. This will be so disappointing if we can’t solve it!”  

Well, I think time and space is always a good thing, a little rest and a place to re-qroup. We got towels for the next set of railings (we learned from our first mistakes) and started again to move and wiggle and turn the desk. Finally when we thought it was just not going to happen, one of the guys simply said, “surely if we turn this way, it should just slide in,” and as we did, no one could quite believe what we were seeing. The desk simply slid right through the door and into my office. 

We jumped around the room in celebration. We couldn't believe we had done it some were still in shock and disbelief.  The final step seemed so easy, we couldn't believe what had just happened. Within minutes we had gone from being completely stuck with no hope to the task being solved so simply.

It required team work, listening to each other, a few casualties along the way, a time to rest, re-group, space to step back and look at the problem from different angles and then sheer determination and commitment.  What seemed Impossible, ended up being possible and the experience finished with a great sense of achievement in the end. 

My favourite verse is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”, but I know that this task had nothing to do with this verse and to quote it would be to lessen the promise of its real meaning. Not even “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) is correct, although I have to admit they are the first things that come to my mind when I think about this experience. But, I know that the moment we found ourselves in the “impossible thinking” place, was the vital time which made a difference to the final outcome. We can quote all the Bible verses in the world, but in the end, it is our frame of mind (and God certainly helps us in this space), the importance of others, the value of listening to others and of doing our best without panicking  whatever happens, which leads to things that seem impossible at the time, actually happening.  And the more we experience this, the more we see that is possible, in all aspects of life. 

I know that a common saying I speak out all the time to my kids and in leadership is “There must be a way.” I wish I could say it to myself more often, but I do believe your frame of mind makes a difference to what is actually possible.  I am also thankful, that I serve a BIG God, who shows me daily, that what is possible with me, is nothing compared to what is possible with HIM.  What is your frame of mind when faced with a challenging task? What stops us from doing the seemingly impossible or more importantly, what helps us face challenges in order to see the impossible happen?  

Monday, 29 August 2016

When your "phone" becomes your "dummy"!

Sam when he was 1yrs old
When our kids were young I would say they LOVED their dummy. For a number of years they thought they needed it to keep them calm, safe, or maybe that is just what we wanted them to believe.   They had cute names for it and we just wouldn't go anywhere without it. When they were very young I would tie it to their shirts, so when it fell out it wouldn't get lost, or dirty and was protected, ready to be inserted when necessary. Now this may say more about my parenting than the kids’ dependence on a dummy to help them feel safe and calm. 

Of course we knew it wasn't something that they needed or that was good for them in the long run, and it didn't take long before we devised a strategy to help them to be weaned off it. We knew it would eventually stop them from talking, developing their social skills and being able to communicate well with others, as well as being seen as a grown up rather than being a baby. For Georgia in particular, this was never going to stop her from talking, but she did love to be pacified at times when emotions were out of control. Georgia was very quick to substitute her thumb, which cannot be taken away, so we persevered with the dummy longer, so she didn't get dependent on her thumb, which is always accessible.   

We got over that stage of life and now that my kids are 16 and 19, I think they have not been too scarred by having a dummy when they were young. At least, I thought so, until I saw the visual of my 19 year old, coming out of his room this morning, still half asleep, in his “pj’s,” walking towards the toilet with his phone in his hand. It reminded me of when he was little and walking around with his “nummies” in his mouth. 

Funny how the phone has become the modern dummy. And this is not just for children. This is any age.  I see people of all ages walking everywhere with their phones in their hands, not being able to put them down or feel they can function without them.

They have become our modern pacifier. I know my children say I am a “techniphobe", but I don't believe that is true as I see great value in the phone.  But it is important for us to be able to make a call (see the pun) when our phone has become our pacifier, so much so that we begin to disengage in life around us.  Technology is a wonderful tool when we are in control of it, when we use it for good. But like anything, there is the potential for a dependence and distraction that is unhealthy. 

I knew when my kids were young, that a dummy served its purpose for a time and within reason, but we needed to eventually get control of the use of it, not the other way round. For a child, when a dummy hinders development, communication and the social ability to be able to relate to others then I think we would all acknowledge that this is not healthy. Children very rarely go to school with a dummy. By the age of 5 it is not something they use in public. They may still need help calming at night, but this is a process they are learning to get personal control over.  

I took this in a cafe just recently
In 2016, the phone has become that for many people, and not just in private. It seems socially acceptable to have a phone in just about every aspect of life, always on, always accessible. I believe it is getting to the point where this is hindering communication, social relationships and for some their own personal development. This is ironic, as the phone was originally designed to be a tool of communication. But, it is very sad to see the disengagement I feel l am continually fighting face to face with people, as I compete with the phone for people’s attention. I am talking about when our phones become our pacifier, our escape, our place to retreat to, our main connection points, our space fillers. And this is not even addressing what we are actually looking at when we go there. That is a whole other blog.  At least with a dummy for a child, it actually takes them to a “zen” state, a “dummed” down space, where they simply calm down, as opposed to what we today are doing on our phones in these spaces of escape.  

But to stay on track, like in most things, we simply need to have self-control and be willing to ask ourselves: “when has our phone become our dummy?”

Here are some times that I check myself as to whether my phone has got too much power over me: 

  • When we are with friends around a table and we would rather be engaged on our phone than the person across the table from us.

  • When we feel we can’t go to sleep unless our phone is beside us, ON.

  • When the first thing we do when we get up in the morning is check our “notifications”. 

  • When we are in a meeting and feel we just have to have our phone beside us (on silent) so we don't miss that ting, ping or message.

  • When we panic because we have not sent out our snapchat story for the day.

  • When we feel an experience is not complete unless it has been shared on Social Media.

  • When we feel naked or incomplete if we have lost our phone, or left it at home.

  • When we go to a place that gets no reception and we start to shake with anxiety because we are not connected. 

  • When we are spending time with God and we just have to answer the phone. 

  • Do I control my phone use or does it control me?

You might have some other good checks that I have missed. I’d love to hear them, but most important, are you willing to ask the question?

Monday, 15 August 2016

An Extra in His Story

Moses is certainly a well-known Bible Hero. Amidst pain, loss, trials, tragedy, the book of Exodus begins with the Genocide, where every boy must be thrown into the Nile. The cruelty of one nation’s leader exerting power over another nation simply because he could and because he didn’t agree with their beliefs and many suffer for it.  Because of their love for God, the Hebrews were subjected to broken hearts. When parents heard, "it's a boy," it would not have been such good news as they would have known the child would be killed. 
But one mother hides her baby boy for three months until she cannot hide any longer, then she puts the baby into a basket and puts it in the water. Can you imagine doing that? The Hebrew word for “basket” translated in English is “ark.” Like Noah’s Ark, Moses’ basket is coated with pitch and tar. This is not the first time that an ark has been placed in dangerous waters and all of the salvation of a nation happens to be going through one person.  
The Nile is full of crocodiles, unsafe water. The risk was huge. However frightening for Moses, or more so the family, I believe that Moses was never safer than when he was in the basket. Is this because Moses was destined to be a hero? Was it because he was someone special and God needed him to do a special job? Was this because he was such a good person? The Bible says “he was fine”(Ex 2:2) so did he need to be saved over the thousands of children who had already been killed? No, I don’t believe so. He was safe because it was all about His story, God’s story. 
So, the drama continues as Miriam (the daughter) watches as the wife of the man who wants this baby killed, picks him up out of the water, knowing full well this is a Hebrew baby. Miriam thinks quickly and is able to offer advice and says she has someone who can look after the baby. When you fear Pharaoh is in control, God shows that He is always in control of His BIG story.
The ‘so called’ Hero of the story, as we know, grows up in the palace and eventually saves God’s people and is used mightily for God. And we teach that just like Moses, God saves us, God uses us to do mighty things, God takes all our circumstances no matter how difficult and uses them for Good.  This is what we teach our children. It is what I was taught. 
For me there is a big BUT, when I think of the 1000’s of babies killed, the 1000’s of families broken, the slavery, the hardship for many other faithful Hebrews in this story. 
To those with broken dreams, to those abused in the process, to those who faithfully serve and find they live mostly with disappointment, I still do believe that God saves us and that He is control. I just believe that not everyone gets to be a “Moses”. 
Not everyone is going to have an amazing destiny, a dream, a vision. But no one likes to talk about this. That is not the message people want to hear. We read this story and want to be Moses. What if we are called to be the mother (Ex 2:3) who simply allows this to happen by being brave enough to put Moses into the basket? What if we are faithful and serve God all our life and we watch in slavery all our life as God uses Pharaoh’s daughter (a woman with no faith) (Ex 2:9) for His purposes of bringing up Moses in the palace. What if we are called to be the Hebrew who gets beaten up by the Egyptians, who helps Moses see the injustice and need for someone to step in and do something (Ex 2:11-12). Or worse, what if we are asked to be one of the ones sacrificed and killed, so that the seriousness of genocide (Ex 1:22) makes a mother get the strength to save her baby, in order for God to use him to save everyone? I could go on, but I think you get the point. I am trying not to be cynical or bitter about it, but it is a reality check, when we understand that to surrender to being a part of God’s story means maybe being asked to play a minor part, or simple being an expendable extra for His greater story. 
We simply have to learn to be content and faithful with the small things and know we get to be part of the bigger story. It is a hard message to sell I know. I admit personally, it has been a harder message to accept and surrender to. 
We don’t often highlight or celebrate the mother of Moses, the sister of Moses, the families that carried on when there was so much pain and loss, the slaves of the day who had the courage to stand strong when the work load got heavier and harder while Moses was challenging Pharaoh. But we should, for they are the necessary and vital extras in the story that make it so great when the Hebrew nation leave Egypt and decimate the power and workforce of the Great Pharaoh. And we should, because it is the majority of us.
I am slowly learning what it means to be joyful and to encourage the few leaders God calls to step out and do the brave thing. I am learning to be happy about it even when I don't want to, when I am bitter, when I am disappointed, when I wish it was me. Lord, when I am not brave enough to be an extra in your story, forgive me and help me be gracious. 
I often fear, in the western world in particular, that we are setting our kids up for a bigger fall than I have had to work through over the years. I often wonder if it is one of the key reasons we are losing so many of our young people from the faith journey. It is because we are not telling the right story?  We are busy teaching them that :
“God has a BIG plan for their life and that they are special”
It may sound like semantics I know, but I am NOT sure if it is exactly true. In Corinthians Paul’s talks about the body of Christ and the part we are called to play. 

“You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.” (1 Cor 12:27, The Message)
“But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. (1 Cor 12:19, The Message)

I believe that this message is actually more correct:  
“God has a BIG plan, but it is HIS plan, and we are blessed to be a part of it, which makes us special. If we surrender our life to be an extra in His story, that’s when we get to be a part of something BIG.”

Maybe I am a slow learner, but I wish I understood this when I was young. It is such a different way to view the faith journey. I want to be faithful to this message to all I teach and walk with, that it might help many NOT so easily turn away due to disappointment, failed dreams, misunderstanding, feeling like a failure or being not good enough or simply feeling anger at God because HE has not come through for them. Oh, that we entitled, expectant westerners might see the beauty, privilege and honour to be an EXTRA in HIS BIG STORY.