When God Gives Us a Story to Tell

Do you ever get weary of saying the same things over and over to your kids? Me too. Stuck on repeat most of the day all I need is an automated recording of my voice that plays when the kids hit a certain decimal level and I’d be good to go. “Hey, come on guys, get along.” (28 seconds later) “Be nice.” (15 seconds) “Share.” (5 seconds) “If he had the toy first, you need to give it back.” All the while I’m outside enjoying some peace and quiet.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 10
Key Verse: “Then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” Deuteronomy 6:21

Now Exodus 10 doesn’t say it, but I’m just wondering if Moses was growing a little weary of saying the same thing over and over to Pharaoh. Because this time, with the eighth plague, the LORD adds a reminder. “Go in to Pharaoh…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them” (v. 2).

“There’s a purpose for all this Moses. So keep at it. Just think of the testimony you’ll be able to tell your grand kids.” (My paraphrase.) And in turn, they can tell their children.

Deuteronomy 6:20-21 says, “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”

With obedience rooted in salvation, they weren’t to forget how God rescued them. They were to tell their sons and daughters forever. Describing with detail the Nile of blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies. The death of Egypt’s livestock, the boils, the hail, and then the eighth plague, the plague of locusts.

Reciting each event with awe and gratitude, they were to tell of God’s gracious protection over His people. His power. His glory. His promise. And then the victory. The redemption.

In regard to the eighth plague, they were to tell how the Egyptian servants begged Pharaoh to give in, to look around at the already ruined land, and to say yes to the God of Israel. And how Pharaoh tried compromising by insisting the kids stay behind.

Can’t you just picture the wide-eyed faces of little Jewish boys and girls at this point in this story? “Leave us behind?” And hear the cheers when told Grandpa Moses didn’t give in! “No, no grandpa would never agree to that. Instead he stretched out his staff and a fierce wind ignited blowing in dense swarms of locusts.”

Go grandpa Go!

Darkening the land (v.15), the locusts ate anything and everything left after the hail. Including the wheat and emmer, Egypt’s last hope of avoiding widespread famine. The land already in ruins prior to the invasion (v. 7), I can’t imagine what it looked like after. A skeleton of what it once was, Pharaoh referred to the eight plague as a death for him (v. 17).

No longer was there crops to trade or food to eat. Egypt a wasteland, the average Egyptian had no hope at this point. The gods of the harvest failing them just as every other god had done, what were they to eat in the coming days, weeks, months? How would they survive?

Gloom and doom the banner overshadowing their every move, it appears the ninth plague, darkness, hit close on the heels of the eighth. Verse 21 says it was “a darkness to be felt.” Unannounced in its coming, for three days the people sat pummeled with pitch darkness. (So much for Annie’s “The sun will come out tomorrow.”)

Scared, no one moved (v. 23). After all they had been through, most probably leery of what might be lurking in the darkness. This the final blow to the gods of Egypt, because most, if not all, worshiped the sun god Ra or Re (depending on your source). Deemed creator of everything, he was the big guy in the sky. The god of all gods.

Sound familiar? We have a God of all gods, but it’s not the sun, it’s the Son. LORD of Lords and King of kings, Jesus is the Creator (Heb. 1:2). And the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3). In fact, in eternity, the new Jerusalem will have “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

Now I don’t know about you, but I smell a sultry pile of deception. Satan, a master at twisting the truth, was hard at work in the land of Egypt. Just as he is today, deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:3).

Though no people group sits without excuse, for God’s eternal power and invisible attributes have been made evident from the beginning of time (cf. Rom. 1:18-25), there is a roaring lion seeking to pull the wool over our little lamb eyes.

And he’s good at it. Taking Scripture out of context. Making it sound almost right, unfair, impossible, unimportant. Today’s standards overriding God’s ideals. Tempting us to think God’s grace is something of a past paradigm. Ineffective right now because otherwise my life wouldn’t be so hard.

But maybe it’s hard – so we’ll have a story to tell.

So we too can testify of God’s rescue, his grace and mercy, his authority. His deliverance from perils greater than me. His strengthening when I couldn’t walk the dusty road another day. His provision when I had nothing in and of myself to give.

Just think of the impact such a story could give. Maybe you’ve experienced it, the testimony of another encouraging your faith or opening your eyes for the first time to God’s undeniable grace. Or maybe right now, you’re the main character of a cliffhanger. One with an ending not quite written.

My friend, Israel’s story wasn’t quite written in Exodus 10 either. The promise of victory had been given, but they didn’t know exactly how or when it would end. The story wasn’t over. Yet God reminded Moses right in the middle, to keep at it, because the story matters. Not just for today, but tomorrow.

God gave Israel a tremendous story to tell so the next generation (and the ones after that) would know of His faithfulness. His active involvement in their lives. His sovereignty. His power. So they would trust, even when they couldn’t see. So they would believe, even when they didn’t know (their own story not fully written). So they would obey, their obedience deeply rooted in the foundation of God’s loving redemption.

If today, you’re holding onto God’s grace one day at a time, just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell. The glory you’ll be able to give to God when you get on the other side and realize, He was faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What is your redemption story? Have you shared it recently?
What story is God writing in your life right now? Which of God’s attributes can you testify to?

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A Letter to Mary

Dear Mary,
You don’t know me, but I know your Son. Your firstborn. Son of the Most High God and LORD of all the earth. Or maybe I should say he knows me. For it’s He who searches hearts and minds (Rev. 2:23). He who made me and he who holds me together. He’s my hope. “My rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps. 18:2).

Devotional Scripture: Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-40
Key Verse: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

What was it like… to raise him? To have the radiance of God’s glory call you mother; the author of life (Acts 3:15) and salvation (Heb. 2:10) play on your living room floor; the Son of the living God eat at your table. Indeed Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). Not because of who you are but simply because of who HE is.

Did you know Mary? Did you know you held the source of eternal salvation in your arms? (Heb. 5:9) Did you know you were rocking the Shepherd and Overseer of souls (1 Peter 2:25); tickling the toes of the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8); playing peekaboo with the Savior of the world? What went through your mind as you tucked in bed the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5) and kissed goodnight the face of God?

Were you taught as a little girl of the virgin birth to come? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Could you even fathom you were the one? You. were. the. one. God had planned all along to bring forth our Redeemer (Is. 47:4).

It’s incredible isn’t it? Who would have thought, the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) himself, would put on flesh to be the Author of our salvation (Heb.2:10). “Taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). What a story! A story you got to be a part of.

I’m challenged by your immediate willingness to surrender your life to His service. Were you scared (Luke 1:29)? I would have been terrified. To be with child and yet not married – they could have stoned you. And what of Joseph? Did you know he planned to quietly divorce you? Did you worry for your future and that of your child? Did you question God’s plan? I’ll be honest, I do sometimes. But the LORD had everything worked out didn’t he? (I need to remember that.)

But that didn’t mean it would be easy. (Though we often think it should be.) Your life was anything but easy. From people assuming you got pregnant out of wedlock to the decree from Caesar to register. Did you know it was necessary? Did you know the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem? I would have balked at the idea of traveling. Travel now? You want me to travel now? But it appears you went willingly.

Did you panic at the first contraction? “No…not here…not now. I’m not home. And I’m here with a man I’ve yet to know intimately.” Did you tell Joseph right away or delay for a while? Counting. Waiting…until you couldn’t hide it anymore.

Until it was time. Time for the birth of God’s own Son. A birth anticipated since the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15). Yet there was no fanfare (except in the host of heaven). No red carpet. No special treatment for the mother of Immanuel. In fact there was not even a room. Not even one. Just a stable, most likely, with animals and a manger; that held the eternal King of Glory on his first night.

It’s probably not what you pictured when the angel Gabriel first told you God’s plan. But I have a feeling it didn’t matter. Not even a little once you laid eyes on your baby boy. The great King of kings; the Maker himself. Could you sense the magnitude of the moment? Did you know time stopped counting down at his arrival and began counting up until his next? You knew the birth of this child would change your life forever (Luke 1:48). But did you know it would change mine? And multitudes of others?

Thank you Mary. Thank you for your example. When God gives me a task I pray I’ll respond as you did with reverent obedience. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). For He is trustworthy isn’t he? He is the true God. The only God. And it really happened didn’t it? He came. You held him. And nursed him. And loved him.

And he grew as all our babies do. And he willingly laid his life down for me; for you. Crucified on a cross before your very eyes. Bearing the wrath of God for all men. Until it was over. And he was gone. Did you know he’d be back? Did you understand? Oh what a sweet reunion it must have been for you. He’s alive isn’t he? He’s alive today! I know he is. For he lives within me. You may have carried him but he carries me. Every day he carries me. I look forward to meeting you some day and talking as only mothers can. But until then I’m holding tight to your son, my Savior and my God.

In Christ Alone,