I so excited to tell you that my new book, Letting God Be Enough: Why Striving Keeps You Stuck and How Surrender Sets You Free launches on September 7th. But, rather than tell you my new book is coming, I wanted to give you a free sneak peek below!
The attached excerpt is my gift to you for being a valued Subscribe Tribe member of my Newsletter list. I’d love to know your favorite quote from this sample! Please feel free to send me your feedback!
Forging Ahead after Failure
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
My dad used to jokingly say about my husband, “Jonathan will be successful at anything he does, or at least he’ll die trying!” He meant that as a compliment regarding his perseverance, yet there are people who would almost rather die than fail at some- thing. People tell us that sometimes failure is our greatest teacher, but if we took a poll, I’d wager that just about everybody would vote to receive instruction through another means. Moses ran ahead of God, taking matters into his own hands rather than waiting on His timing. Sometimes in our fear of inadequacy we can become so desperate to prove ourselves, we will rush ahead to tackle some- thing just to prove our worth.
Moses sensed the call to deliver his people from the Egyptians, but the plan failed. And Moses ran away to hide. What’s interesting to me is where he chose to go. Moses fled into the wilderness, a place of total obscurity. Attempting to create a new identity, he denied his gifted- ness and valuable life experiences, and in- stead, performed one of the most debased jobs in ancient society—shepherding.
Surely he could have gone to Ur or Shechem, or another large city and worked as an accountant or even a teacher. Instead he chose a life for the poor and uneducated. Moses is strong, articulate, and presumably trained in the best schools in Egypt. But he goes to no-man’s-land doing a job people whose options were more limited than an educated member of the Egyptian royal household typically did. And Scripture tells us that Moses was content to stay there (Ex. 2:21). Initially Moses’ fear of inadequacy pushed him into proving himself through an epic performance, but after his one-man Operation Deliverance failed he fled to passivity and obscurity.
This seems so strange to me, but if I’m honest with myself, I’d often rather choose something easy than risk failure. Sometimes in my life I’ve called this course of action wise. Other times I’ve called it responsible. I’ve even gone so far as to call it noble as life unfolded, and taking risks meant involving others dear to me such as my husband and children. And the reality is that God has not wasted any steps of that path. But if I am honest with myself, I recognize that I’ve taken on a lot of roles and activities in my life more to deflect my fear of inadequacy and try and prove my worth, than because I sensed God calling me to those roles at the time.
If we know the story of Moses’ life, we can certainly see how forty years of shepherding served him well herding the people of Israel through the wilderness. God had purpose even in this path that didn’t make any sense based on Moses’ skill set.
Moses is about to begin adulting. He gets married and settles down. Starts a family. We still see his identity struggle. He names his son Gershom, which in Hebrew means “alien” or “a stranger here,”3 for heaven’s sake. Listen to what he says: “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land” (Ex. 2:22) He lives here, works here, his family is here, but what is Moses still feeling deep down? “I don’t belong here. There’s something else out there, somewhere else I should be.”
Maybe you’re near this stage of life. Maybe you’ve chosen the wise or responsible path in life. You forfeited a dream because it felt selfish to pursue it. Taking a steady job or staying home full time felt like a more noble endeavor. And truthfully, any sacrifice we make for the good of those we love should be viewed as such. But maybe you wrestle with the nagging feeling that there is something more for you: deeper, more meaningful relationships, the spouse you’re hoping to find, a new career path or dream to pursue once the kids are more independent. There’s something within you that stirs for something more. But you’re living in Midian. And for now, you are content to dwell there, but inwardly you know you eventually belong somewhere else.
Something else significant is happening here also. Moses is passing his “I don’t fit in anywhere” complex onto his son, reminding him by his name that he isn’t really a Midianite either. We have to face our insecurities and allow God to forge our new identity or we’ll pass down the shackles of self-doubt to the next generation. We’ll live guarded rather than loving generously. We’ll settle for comfortable rather than chase the miraculous. If we live fearing that failure waits around every corner because our script of self-doubt directs our steps, so will our children.
Moses believed he didn’t belong anywhere—neither with the Egyptians nor the Israelites nor the Midianites. And you know what? He was right. He would never be Egyptian. He was not intended to be a Hebrew slave. It was not his future to remain a Midianite shepherd. God’s plan for Moses was for him to be different—set apart. He wasn’t called to be one of the Israelites, he was called to lead the Israelites. He belonged to God. He was called out by God and equipped by God for a unique role and purpose within the history of the world.
And friend, you may not fully believe this yet, but so are you.
Moses’ fear of inadequacy may have originated from the lack of belonging he felt in the Egyptian royal court and the rejection he faced from his Hebrew brothers. Or, it’s from His disappointment in fulfilling the nudge he felt in his heart to help deliver them. But God, in His infinite wisdom, placed Moses in those situations to open his eyes to see with whom he actually belonged: God. Every disappointment and rejection drove him to the One who would forever fulfill and accept him as His own.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The disappointments you’ve endured, the rejection you’ve withstood, even the failures you faced . . . they may have led you to inward feelings of self-doubt, but God means them to serve as your road map to Christ. And it’s He in whom all security and sufficiency are ultimately found.
Each one of us as followers of Jesus has been given a unique gift to be employed in good works for our time and place in history. Yet as long as Moses focused on his past failure and his need for acceptance by others, he would never embrace those truths. He would forever feel like a failure and doubt his ability to do what God asked of him. He would choose an easier path and other endeavors rather than the grand adventure God had for him. And friend, so will we if we don’t get serious about understanding our identity and conquering our fear of inadequacy.
Yet even in this place of obscurity and waiting, God was equipping Moses. God knew what He was accomplishing in mundane Midian. Listen to this perspective:
“For 40 years . . . Moses undertook the toilsome life of a sheepherder in the Sinai area, thus gaining valuable knowledge of the topography of the Sinai Peninsula, which later was helpful as he led the Israelites in that wilderness land.”
And further, “Egypt accomplished him as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, all which accomplishments would be afterwards of use to him, but yet he lacked one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He that was to do all by divine revelation must know, by a long experience, what it was to live a life of communion with God; and in this he would be greatly furthered by the solitude and retirement of a shepherd’s life in Midian.”
And friend, can I remind you today, that God knows what He is accomplishing in this season of your life? You may yearn for more. You may feel like an alien in a foreign land, unique, isolated, or alone. The days may feel monotonous, insignificant, or meaningless. You may wonder where you fit and where you belong. But the story of Moses reminds us that God is at work.
Our early days in Arizona felt like Midian. We left the verdant leafy trees of North Carolina for a dirt backyard surrounded by brown mountains and tan houses. The scene outside my kitchen window felt as dull and colorless as my days. With a preschooler and a toddler, some days seemed to repeat in endless cycles with little evidence of any sort of progress or accomplishment. But this season also included daily naptimes, where I began to forge the habit of connecting with God in the silence . . . a habit I carried with me beyond Midian into even fuller seasons of life, when I didn’t have little ones keeping me at home and quiet for two hours every afternoon.
Midian also provided an opportunity to establish friendships with other moms to survive the chaos of the remaining hours when my young children were awake! Those friendships proved integral throughout Midian but also beyond, as my children got older and God began to call me to new things. I need those friends as much today as I did in Midian.
Midian is the place where we learn to listen. Those haunting echoes of our inadequacy begin to be drowned out by the soothing sounds spoken over us by the Savior as we open His Word, allowing Him to place a new song within our ever-racing minds. Because often when we are in Midian we cannot see how God is working. We are surrounded by duties and our schedule feels too daily. Responsibilities weigh heavy and the horizon looks flat and desolate.
It’s often in faithfully carrying out our responsibilities that God gifts us with meaningful relationships. And while Moses may feel alone in his identity, God was using the time to forge a friendship between Moses and Jethro, his father-in-law, that would have a great effect on his life. We’ll see later how Jethro celebrated with Moses, redirected him when he got overwhelmed, and warned him when he began to make unhealthy choices. It was the dailyness and drudgery of Midian that the early bonds of trust between the two were formed.
Don’t you find it marvelous how each stage and circumstance in Moses’ life was so perfectly planned and designed to equip him for his unique call? Furthermore, don’t you love how patient God is in preparing us for ours? What Moses still didn’t yet know was that God’s plan for his life was unfolding exactly the way God had intended. From Moses’ limited perspective, he may have thought himself a failure, but from God’s point of view, Moses was positioned exactly where God wanted him.
And so are you. Lean in and listen. Pieces of your past are preparation for the future God has planned for you. The winds of change begin to stir across your desert landscape as the voice of the Almighty speaks new truth about your identity.
Bible Reading Plan: Exodus 2; 2 Corinthians 12:9
Truths for the Journey
- God has purpose in the path even when it doesn’t make sense or seem to fit our skill set .
- Midian is the place where we learn to listen .
- It’s often in faithfully carrying out our responsibilities that God gifts us with meaningful relationships .
- Pieces of your past are preparation for the future God has planned for you .
Processing the Journey
1 . Second Corinthians 12:9 follows the well-known phrase about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh .” What is God’s answer? Describe in your own words what you think Paul is saying here . How does verse 9 outline the paradox of having power to overcome our fear of not being good enough?
2 . Why do you think Moses chose to flee to Midian rather than capitalizing on his skills and education to find other means of employment?
3 . Describe what a modern-day Midian season might look like . Have you ever been in Midian? Are you in Midian now?
4 . Have you altered your dreams, fulfilled your dreams, or completely abandoned them? Was there a significant life event or encounter that prompted you to take that course of action?
5 . Who has become a meaningful relationship in your life that was forged through faithfully fulfilling your responsibilities?
Dear Jesus, teach me what faithfulness looks like in my Midian. Make me faithful in my daily responsibilities enjoying Your presence with me even in the most mundane tasks. Open my eyes to those You have placed around me to forge deep friendships. Open my heart to be willing to invest in them and invite them into my life. Help me not to compare my life to others, but to trust that You have me exactly where You want me for this season.
Be the First to Take Advantage of Pre-Order Bonuses!
Pre-orders are going live on Monday, June 7th, but my Subscribe Tribe friends can access these bonuses now including
- a free digital study experience,
- discount codes from my fave Christian apparel company Elly & Grace
- exclusive teaching bundles from some of my favorite authors and industry experts
- some other surprises!
To pre-order your copy and find out more about these exclusive bonuses go to http://getericasbook.com
Thank you for sharing my early excitement! I can’t wait for this book to be born! Enjoy your sneak peek!
Did You Know?
To see my speaking packages that accompany this book check out the Got Godfidence? video and preview.