- 2005 15 Jul
On a dusty Goshen street lived a little family that didn’t seem like anyone special. The quiet couple and their two small children blended in with dozens of other families. Years of slavery had scarred their bodies and seared their hearts, just like it had all their neighbors. Yet when this tired mother rocked her toddling son to sleep, she sang him songs of hope. When this weary father tucked in his young daughter, he whispered sweet words of freedom in her ear. Surrounded by the fear of insurmountable obstacles, they somehow clung to a promise spoken generations earlier and passed on to them. They believed the promise of their silent God.
As the birth of their third child approached, Amram and Jochebed must have trembled to think what was ahead. They were Hebrews living in Egypt during the reign of a crazed Pharaoh who ordered all Hebrew boys killed. But the Bible records that “When [Jochebed] saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months” (Exodus 2:2). Hebrews 11 restates and amplifies the story: “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).
Faith overcame fear as Amram and Jochebed plunged themselves into danger on behalf of their infant son. Faith prompted a nondescript set of parents to take bold action, unknowingly preparing a nation for divine deliverance. According to the details of Hebrews 11:23, Amram and Jochebed lived out their rare faith for two reasons: God created the opportunity and they refused to fear.
God Created the Opportunity
Why does God waste the words to say that baby Moses was an extraordinary baby.
When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. (Exodus 2:2)
At that time, Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. (Acts 7:20)
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child. (Hebrews 11:23)
Maybe he fit in the “non-wrinkled” category. Perhaps he had a tangle of dark hair instead of peach fuzz. Baby Moses was probably an agreeable baby with extraordinary good looks.
So what. Amram and Jochebed didn’t risk their lives to save Moses just because he was a gorgeous baby. If he had been born with a face only a mother could love, she would have loved it and longed to save him. If he had been scrawny and screaming, his parents would not have happily tossed him into the Nile. It doesn’t matter what a baby looks like; loving parents don’t discard children based on appearance and temperament.
I am sure that all Hebrew parents in Egypt wanted to save their children. They didn’t willingly sacrifice their children on the altar of Pharaoh’s ego. If it had been possible, they would have saved their sons. However, Pharaoh was not only ruthless; he was effective. He managed to enforce his barbaric law, eliminating a generation of Hebrew boys.
Yet Moses escaped the insanity. He was not only extraordinary for his looks, but he was extraordinary because Pharaoh and his recruits didn’t know he existed. The unwritten circumstances of his birth somehow made it possible for Amram and Jochebed to save him. Perhaps Jochebed’s neighbors hadn’t detected her pregnancy. Maybe Moses came quickly before anyone nearby knew what had happened. Whatever the circumstances, when Jochebed gave birth, she and Amram looked at Moses, looked around, and looked at each other. They knew they had a chance to save the baby. God controlled the circumstances, and they took a sphinx-sized step of faith.
Refusing to Fear
On a college missions trip to Santiago, Chile, I encountered fear. Our team of three girls stayed with Sandy and Kathy, two short-term missionary teachers who spoke only scraps of Spanish. Sandy chauffeured our fivesome around Santiago in her unreliable car, Puff the Tragic Wagon. On a day off from school, we decided to expand our touristic horizons, so we piled into Puff and headed to the coastal city of Vina del Mar. Halfway to our destination, Puff started limping. We pulled off to the side of the desolate road, changed the tire, and continued on our way. Puff apparently felt the need to defend her reputation that day, so not far down the road, she started limping again. We pulled over only to discover that the spare tire didn’t like its new assignment. We were stuck. Five English-speaking girls, a disabled vehicle, a Chilean countryside, and no cell phone created lots of problems and few solutions.
I was afraid. We were desperate. When a Spanish-speaking stranger pulled over, we cheered with a fair amount of fear. Since we were helpless without him, we took deep breaths, prayed hard, and climbed into his car. I tried not to think about where he was taking us or what my parents would say if they knew where I was. Catching the fearful eyes of my friends, I hoped with them that he was a Good Samaritan and not an ax murderer. We exhaled in silent relief when we reached a phone several miles down the road.
Sandy and Kathy vaguely remembered that there was a missionary man in Vina del Mar. After some mental gymnastics, they came up with a name, tracked down a phone number, and dialed in desperation. I’m sure Arnie Smith was a busy man with a full schedule, but he was also the father of daughters. It took him only an instant to hear the fear in our voices. He dropped everything and became our dad for the day. When the phone rested back in the receiver, it took my fear with it. Arnie Smith was bigger than our problem. He would take care of it.
The world is a scary place. Every age and stage of life has its unique sources of fear. When I was a child, after I saw the TV Waltons’ house burn down, I was sure ours was next. Creaks in the hall came from burglars sneaking toward my bedroom. Pain in my leg meant cancer and inevitable amputation. Headaches could only be from a brain tumor. A late night or early morning phone call carried bad news. A stomachache signaled pregnancy (these fears disappeared after I learned the truth about the pregnancy process!). A delayed parent picking me up was certainly a fatal car crash.
Some of these fears evaporated with experience and knowledge, but others have persisted into adulthood. Phone calls during off hours still start the adrenaline rush. Recurring aches and pains still make me vacillate between calling the doctor or not. Expected arrival times gone awry still make me fear the worst. To these childhood fears, I’ve added a whole new set of adult fears. The health of my parents, the salvation of my relatives, the condition of the economy, the global threat of terrorism, and the rise of local violence all regularly attack my peace of mind.
Then in their own little category are the fears I credit to singleness. They are not knee-knocking, palm-sweating fears like some. Instead they usually persist as a dull dread in the pit of my stomach. I’m afraid of always being alone in a crowd of couples. I’m afraid of continued rejection by someone I want to meet at the end of the aisle. I’m afraid of turning down a really wonderful guy who thinks I paint the sunset. I’m afraid of doing my taxes, tending my car, and planning my retirement by myself. I’m afraid of close friends moving on or moving away, leaving me to replace them--again. In a sentence, I’m afraid I’ll never get married.
Since the break-up between God and man in the Garden, fear has lived in the human heart and has ravaged the human mind. One of Satan’s key weapons, fear distorts perspective and threatens contentment. The message of the Bible, however, is that fear doesn’t have to take over my thoughts and control my actions. By faith, obstacles can become opportunities to do the right thing and invitations to see God.
By Wendy Widder, featured on "FamilyLife Today" and author of "Living Whole without a Better Half" (Kregel Publications, 2003).
The wearer of six bridesmaid dresses, Wendy Widder knows the single life. She also knows the church after spending a lifetime there in both volunteer and paid positions. She believes more than ever that the two go together. Wendy is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and she is currently working on a doctorate in Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the author of "Living Whole Without a Better Half" and "A Match Made in Heaven: How Singles and the Church Can Live Happily Ever After."