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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Living the Hyphen

Living the Hyphen

This week we are going to study a passage from Exodus chapters two and three. There are a lot of Christians who reach a place in their spiritual walk and are uncertain why they are there. If that is you then I hope this speaks to your heart today.
Isn’t it amazing how a person’s life can be condensed so briefly? Samson judged Israel for twenty years and yet we only see a few stories about him (most of them bad). He was listed in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) so there must have been a lot of good that he did that was not recorded. If you walk through a cemetery you will see tombstones with a name and two dates. There is nothing to tell you if the person had a good life or not and only a hyphen between the two dates to specify a period of time that the person lived. Unless they were known to you, you can draw no conclusion about their lives. There is a lot of detail where the hyphen is that we won’t know about until judgment day.
Our lives are sometimes the same way even though we are living them. We look for the purpose of our lives and want there to be a point. We may find a calling for our life and when we start down that road it seems to lead to a dead end. Just look at Moses and how God used him. In Exodus chapter two there is a beginning of his life. For ten verses you can read how he was put in an ark and placed in the river and found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Then, Moses is grown up in verse eleven. If you watch the movie, “The Ten Commandments” there is a lot of speculation about the time between his birth and verse eleven. Our lives can seem like this, too.
Everyone has dreams of their life, don’t they? When we are young our parents ask us “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I grew up in the space age and wanted to be an astronaut. That was, until my Dad took me on a Ferris wheel! We do all dream of jobs, spouses, children, homes, etc. It depends on which time of our life we are in as to what the dream is. A young girl dreams of her prince coming to take here away from the life she is in. Later, she dreams of children and then after that grand-children. A young man dreams of the occupation he will grow into. Later, he dreams of the young lady that he can deliver while riding his white stallion. All of us see landmarks in life as the things we have vision for next. These landmarks are the highlights in our life. When we aren’t living in a landmark occasion we can easily be discouraged.
Moses’ life began as a miracle. Pharaoh had ordered all Israelite male children to be murdered. Moses was actually taken into Pharaoh’s house to be raised. We can only guess what happened during his childhood. It was much like Jesus’ childhood-only a glimpse is given in scripture. People often get frustrated with this aspect of scripture. I spoke with a parent one time who was actually upset that God did not put the childhood of Jesus or Moses into the Bible. We all are shaped during those years and then emerge as adults.
Just this week my family discovered that our oldest daughter Haley is going to have twin babies! As she told me she was crying. All I could see was a young woman crying on her bed asking when life was going to happen to her. At that time she was upset because she had graduated school and had no man in her life and no job to work at except her chores around the house. I remember the conversation we had that day. I told her that when things did happen they would happen in explosions.
God did give her a job soon after that but no husband at that time. She would go for many years waiting for Mr. Right (or in this case Mr. Robertson) to come into her life. Even after that they courted for three years before they married. She now has her next dream being fulfilled. When we wait on these milestones in life we miss something very important-life itself. Our lives have maybe a half dozen milestones and dreaming of the next one, which may be a long time down the road, we miss out on the day to day blessings God is giving us.
Moses had a childhood in the palace of Pharaoh. He was given an education that would have been the schooling of a world leader. Maybe he actually found out early that he was Jewish. As verse eleven indicates he at least knew that he was a Jew when he became an adult. Moses saw that his people needed deliverance and after evaluating the situation (v12) decided to become that deliverer. In verse fourteen Moses realized that the murder was no secret. Notice a nugget here-there is nothing done in secret that wont be found out. Pharaoh found out about Moses killing the Egyptian and sought to kill him. Moses was forced to flee for his life and ended up in Midian. As a fugitive Moses did the best he could and married a Midianite woman. He raised his children and worked as a shepherd for forty years.
Think about that time frame for a moment. Moses lived forty years away from his people. He had an occupation for a period of time that is more than most of us retires from. Forty years is most of my life and probably longer that most people who read this message have lived. After forty years most of us give up on the dreams of our youth.
This past week my family viewed a documentary of a man that moved to Alaska at age fifty-two and built a log cabin by himself with only hand tools. He lived a solitary life for over thirty years. He documented his experiences and filmed it using a 16mm camera. I was shocked at this mans passion being that he was the same age as myself. I watched as he used saws, chisels and axes to build a beautiful cabin. His dream was to try to see if he could build a cabin and then after that his dream was to see how long he could live in it by himself.
Moses wanted to deliver his people, Israel. He dreamed of seeing them out of bondage. God told the prophet that they would be in bondage for 400 years. You see, God has a plan, too. Don’t we often forget about God’s view of things? We may have passed our last dream or passion. Perhaps we have had great victories in our life. We can no longer see the next dream taking place. Moses might have given up after ten years- or maybe even sooner. I’m sure that he settled in as husband, father and shepherd. We all need to settle in during the hyphen.
The problem is the feeling of failure. If Moses had really seen his original place as deliverer of Israel he probably thought he blew it when he killed the Egyptian. I can relate to Moses. I once felt like God had a great calling for me. I was charged up in exuberance in my youth and passionate for God. I was in a wreck less state that left a wake of destruction behind me. All the while I just knew that I was doing it right. I followed the lead of others. Often I would use messages from other pastors and make them my own. All the while I dreamed of being a man of God. And then I fled to Midian. Settled in my job as shepherd of a small flock, husband and father I spent my years.
Yes, I can relate to Moses. I love an analogy that Max Lucado gave in one of his books on Moses situation. Max’s story goes something like this: imagine a man who is working as a janitor. He has been many years in this job but at one time he was president of a company. He charged in and almost destroyed in. He had to run. For forty years he has had to settle with the fact that he failed. Many years back he finally came to terms that this was his lot in life-mopping floors of a hospital late at night while the whole world slept. One night he filled his mop bucket with hot water and traveled down the hall to swipe the floors-something that he has done so many times. All of a sudden a glow comes from his mop bucket and he goes over to see what is going on. A voice calls out his name and tells him that he will lead his company again-only this time he will be ready. This time he will do it in God’s timing.
That story stayed with me through the years as it put Moses’ life into a real perspective. Moses must have felt as if he blew it. He spent his life accepting that he wouldn’t have another shot at what he once felt was his destiny. Moses was living the hyphen.
Let me get personal with you for a moment. Is there something in your life that you feel like you’ve missed or are missing? Maybe you are a woman who has been waiting on the love of your life to come along. Your childbearing years are quickly slipping away and you live in despair. You wake up thinking about it and in the quiet of the night you cry the tears that no one knows of. Maybe you had your heart broken many years ago and feel like love will never find you. God has a plan for you yet!
Or, are you someone who has had some victories through the years and now in your old age you are just biding your time for God to call you home. You’ve stopped enjoying life a long time ago and sometimes wonder why you are still here. Friend, God has a plan for you, too! When I sat on Haley’s bed many years ago I could see the frustration in her eyes. I remembered that same feeling when I was about her age. I also wondered why God had not given me the wife, job and family that I wanted. It was as if the clocked stopped for me and would not go forward to the next event. All the while I was missing out on the joys of my youth; health, happiness and discovery that were all around me.
Looking back on my own life I wonder what more can be ahead. Am I missing out on what is going on for the sake of the next big thing in my life? All around me life still goes on. Am I missing the cry of my grandson Paul (who is actually lying beside me as I write) for the sake of my “duty”? God also has a plan for me. My life still has purpose as He is still giving me breath. As long as there is breath within me I will praise Him!
Look friends, today is a special day. You woke up this morning and were given a special gift. It may not have been a day of weddings, births or deaths for you. You probably did not graduate from school or retire from a job. But today is part of the hyphen of your life-the stuff in between. Don’t forget to enjoy it today! Your life still has meaning and God still has big plans for you!
Prayer-Father, so often we fail to enjoy the days or even years in between those events that are mile markers in our lives. We may be discouraged at what we view as a lack of movement or change. I pray for those today who may be losing hope. I am asking that they would be reminded that You always have a purpose for them to still be here. May they enjoy the life and place that You have them in. May they bloom where they are planted.
In Jesus’ Name-Amen


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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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One Response to "Living the Hyphen"

  1. Cary says:

    Brother Paul, I have tears in my eyes as I read your message and also a sense of joy! I can’t wait to share this with my family, and I thank you again for sharing what God shows you in your messages here…I’m so glad that I “checked in” this morning ;) God Bless!

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