Sometimes life piles on top of us, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the kids or work or the weight of ministry or let’s just say it, laundry. Life can be overwhelming! The other day, all at once, I had dinner burning on the stove, one child who was bleeding, another who could not find a single pair of underwear, two more in need of a referee, and a husband who needed me to answer the phone.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 18
Key Verse: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.” Exodus 18:18
It’s moments like that we moms need an automatic reply button. “I’m sorry, but I’m out of the office today. If you need anything please just do it yourself. If it’s underwear you’re looking for then either check the dryer or wear your brother’s. Thank you and have a great day.”
Oh it’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But not just for me, I think Moses could have used something similar. With one or two million people in camp, and only one man to settle disputes and answer questions about God’s will for this or that, Moses was a busy guy. So busy in fact, when Moses’ father-in-law arrived he was a little stunned. “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” Sounds just like my day!
But with that many people, can you imagine the line? It was probably wrapped halfway around camp. “I’ve come to speak to Moses. Well get in line brother, so has everyone else.”
There’s no doubt Moses was left with little time to do what mattered most – commune with God. With just 5 people vying for my attention, I know how challenging it can be to carve out time with the LORD. I can’t even fathom millions!
Yet Moses trudged through, that is, until Jethro got there. “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (v. 17-18).
Jethro had come to bring Moses’ wife and sons back to him. At some point, perhaps after the circumcision incident on the way to Egypt (See Exodus 4:18-31 for a reminder), Moses had sent them back home. Most likely to protect them.
But now it was time to reunite. So Jethro, anxious to hear how everything had gone, brought them to Moses himself. Verse 9 says after Moses filled him in on the details, Jethro rejoiced “for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel.” Then Jethro blessed the LORD, bringing a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; “and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (v. 12).
It was a blessed night. A sweet time of fellowship for Moses. But then morning came and it was back to reality. Back to the people; giving Jethro the opportunity to see how Moses usually spent his day. At the front of an endless line of upset people.
So he gave Moses some advice. “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times” (v. 21-22). Jethro goes on to say the difficult matters they can still bring to you Moses, but the small stuff, they can decide on their own.
In other words, “Moses, get some help!”
Oh the treasure to be had here my tired friend. We aren’t meant to bear the burdens of this life alone. Come what may – we can ask for help. Even in ministry! Yet how often we still try to do it alone! (And by the way mama’s – motherhood is ministry.)
With the mantra, “It’s my cross to bear,” we often trudge through on our own because it’s my kids to deal with or it’s my mess to clean up or it’s my God given calling or my path to walk. Thinking to ourselves, whether it’s big or small, “God chose me so I’m gonna have to figure it out.”
But what if your burden, is someone else’s blessing?
Scholars differ on the timing of Exodus 18, but it’s possible Jethro didn’t come to visit until after all was said and done at Mt. Sanai. (i.e. after the law had been given and the Tabernacle built). If so, Numbers 10 and 11 may add more to our story. And just look what God does for Moses! “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel…And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Num. 11:16-17).
Can you imagine the blessing for those men? The Spirit of God resting on them! What a confirmation of faith. Yet if Moses hadn’t reached out for help, they would have missed out on the blessing.
God draws wide circles my friend. Doing more with our messes than we can imagine. It’s one thing to figure something out on our own, but it’s quite another to share it with others!
This concept is all over the New Testament. In Acts 6 the disciples chose deacons to help bear the weight of ministry in the church. In First Thessalonians 5:11 we’re told to “Encourage one another.” In Galatians 6 we’re told to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). And thereby imitating Christ, who carried the weight of our sin all the way to the cross.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We have a God who never intended for us to go it alone. It’s why He gave us His Spirit; the Helper. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). See, it’s OK, He knew we’d need help!
Yet more often than I’d like, instead of reaching out for the help of my gracious God and Savior, I get caught up in the frenzy of life and unravel.
But the bottom line is, we don’t have to do this life alone. “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). And you know what else? God likes it when we not only look to Him for help, but we do it together. Hand in hand, the body of Christ working together as one.
It’s all right tired friend, go ahead and ask for help. You never know when your mess might be a blessing in waiting for someone else.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you more often try to go it alone or with the help of the Father? How is the body of Christ a support for you to lean on?
Who can you encourage today? Is there an area of life you need to reach out for help?