The seed that grew

“Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.” (Exodus 7:11 KJV)

I think that one of the great challenges of presenting the gospel and explaining Christianity is that the message often falls on ears that are cluttered with trying to find the usefulness factor in what they are hearing. Much like the story in Matthew 13 where some of the seeds fall into weeds. I think one of those weeds is a question mark of what God and / or Christianity can do that cannot otherwise be done? At first it is a hard question to answer because we are not interested in answering in terms of usefulness as a tool found in the management tool chest (or at least we ought not be), but we are interested in showing both the necessity of and freedom and forgiveness inside surrender to Jesus. The weed becomes immediately obvious as the hearer is only interested in surrender in so far as it is able to help take care of the needful in his or her situation. The question is even more difficult to answer for the Christian because there at least appears to be other tools to be had.

Step back and put yourself in the shoes of Moses (or Aaron) as their initial conversations at Pharaoh’s court unfold. You have what you believe to be a firmly established message from God. You have already meet with the elders of the people. You are now before Pharaoh making your case and the question of proof comes up. You deliver the proof flawlessly as previously instructed. Rather than Pharaoh tipping his hat to your evidence and offering to give it serious consideration at the next budget meeting, he calls in his wizards and they put on a similar display. No one told you anything about the other wizards nor that they would be able to make your proof look like just another bag of tricks. Now your message is immediately dwindled down to a usefulness contest and the opportunity at a heart felt conversation, much less any hope of a surrendered heart, just evaporated.

As the remainder of the story unfolds, God absolutely cleans the other magicians’ clock, and Moses receives the highest levels of respect from all the highest level of officials. Yet so often the essence of that initial challenge has never gone away with time. If anything, as technology and the sciences have grown, the challenge has increased. To add to the challenge, a full on display of power as God provided Moses is pretty rare. Or at least seems rare until you draw closer to God. Even worse, what if the very thing that you were seeking to show is best illustrated only after the heart has been softened?

Did you notice the example God drew out inside the examples of the many signs and wonders? The key to removing the plagues and disasters was in humility and softening. The key to bringing them back and making them worse was in hardening and looking at what he was letting go. If you look at the things God does through the lens of usefulness and the possibilities that a new tool can bring, you will both grow quickly and be choked out quickly never reaching maturity. If seeing that other things and other means can do similarly to what you thought God had for you to accomplish brings a question to your devotion; do not be surprised. But do not stop at the question. Seek until you find the answer. Know the things that God’s Word and God’s Spirit do accomplish in the patience of His timing and His ways under His direction right there in the midst of and for the good of His people.

“For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” (Exodus 7:12 KJV)

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