Every time I hear the story of the Exodus, I am reminded how crazy the Bible is. I mean, there is a lot of crazy stuff in the Bible, but the sea splitting far enough open for a million people to walk through it? Plagues of frogs, locusts, boils, blood, darkness, hail, and fire? Killing off firstborn sons?
And let’s not forget that it all started with a man hearing a voice coming from a bush that was on fire and yet not consumed by the flames. Actually, even further back in the story, that same man is able to evade, through the desperate act of his mother and sister, an earlier plague in which firstborn sons were killed, and this lands him in a palace, raised as a son of a king.
It all feels a bit theatrical sometimes, like maybe Charlton Heston wasn’t all that over the top after all. I mean, it’s dramatic, but it’s not Shatner-dramatic. It’s the stuff of legend, folklore, action movies. Perhaps this is why Hollywood has recently become enamored with retelling Bible stories. And even then, they add some “action” and take away some of the crazy.
Because let’s face it, the Bible is full of intrigue and debauchery and failures and disobedience. It is full of people—flawed, fallen, tiny in the grand scheme of things.
But it is also full of second chances and grace and forgiveness.
The Exodus reminds me that there is something bigger at stake.
Moses played his part in the story. And yes, he had a pretty big part to play—leading the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the wilderness (only to wander for 40 ridiculously long and miserable years) was no small task. But that wasn’t the whole story. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt was part of the bigger story of God fulfilling a promise, made long ago to Abraham, that his descendants would outnumber the stars and would become a mighty nation.
So here I am, wondering about my part in the story.
Do you ever skip to the end of a book or movie to see what’s going to happen and then wonder how on earth that story is going to unfold? (Lucas does this all the time. He asks about how a story ends and doesn’t care if you ruin the ending. I cannot handle this.)
But sometimes I wish I could see where I’m going to end up. But then again, maybe I really don’t want to know. Because I think that if I had known that I was going to marry this Lucas character, I might have had some opinions about that. If I had known that God was going to ask us to do foster care, I definitely would have had some opinions about that. I often have moments when I wonder how we got here. How is this my life? Sometimes I say that in awe, and sometimes in frustration, like yesterday when both girls got in trouble at school—one for getting in a slap fight on the bus with another six year old and the other for threatening to stab a kid with a pencil after the principal had called me about her being involved in an “incident” at recess involving jump ropes and a kid getting his lip busted open. It was a banner day at the Motley house.
When I look backward at my life, I can see all the pieces coming together. I can see God orchestrating the whole thing, tuning and tweaking and correcting in all the right places. I wonder if Moses stood at the edge of the Red Sea and thought, This—this is what God was preparing for the whole time, or if he had that thought after they had crossed through, or if he had that thought at all.
It would’ve been awful to be Moses.His piece in fulfilling the promise would have been terribly frustrating. There have been so many frustrating moments in my life, so many moments when I wanted to step outside of the story and just see, if only for a second, that it was all going somewhere, leading to something worthwhile.
Our girls have been with us for about a year and a half now, and those first days and weeks and months were terrible. I cried a lot. I yelled at Lucas a lot. I wished for our old life back. A lot. And then somewhere along the way, I stopped hoping they would leave and started wishing they would stay. I started to wonder, What if this is what God was preparing for the whole time?
After I posted an update recently on Facebook, a friend commented: “I remember reading your posts from the early days – the struggles, tears, and pain, the feelings of inadequacy and being ill-prepared. You have already had such an impact on their precious lives. An impact God knew you would have. Praying that all will fall in place, just as He planned. Thanks for not giving up and following your heart. The trajectory of two little lives is forever changed because of you and Lucas.”
What a responsibility—the trajectory of two little lives is forever changed. I am not narcissistic enough to think that WE changed their trajectory, but that somehow God delivered them out of their old life and into ours.
My story seems really small sometimes. I work. I do laundry. I cook (sometimes, and poorly). I clean (again, sometimes, and without enthusiasm). I change diapers. I read books and help with homework and quiz spelling words and clean up the detritus of little girl life. It is unglamorous, to say the least. I’m not freeing a nation or parting a sea or hearing God speak from a burning bush.
But this is my story. And I don’t know what the bigger story is around me. Maybe we never really get to know that. Maybe the mom-ing and wife-ing is what matters right now. Maybe this is what God was preparing for the whole time—all the craziness and melodrama of being a part of The Story.