Exodus 17:8-16 (NIV)
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
Every Wednesday night, my two youngest kiddos and I do a Bible study together. Recently, we’ve been studying Moses and the Israelites journey out of Egypt into the promised land. Tonight, we read the story of their first military battle after leaving Egypt – you know the one where Moses stands on the hill and holds up his arms in prayer, but can’t hold them up long enough on his own so Aaron and Hur hold them up until the battle is won. We read this out of the Action Bible, which is a kid’s Bible formatted like a comic book. It has pictures…
Anyway, as we were reading this story together and looking at the pictures, God brought to mind a time when He had me hold up my arms in prayer rather than engaging in the hands-on “battle”. I was in the Dominican Republic with other leaders from my congregation where we were scoping out a potential mission partner. It was our last night there and we added a prayer service into our schedule. My lead pastor and boss gave a great message and then invited all the Dominican youth to come forward for prayer to receive a double portion of blessing. The entire congregation came forward!
He laid hands on every single person that came forward that evening to pray an individual prayer over them. In my flesh, I sooo wanted to be in the middle of that prayer time and laying hands on people. But, God clearly told me I was to stay where I was – on the sidelines – and to pray with my hands in the air, and He showed me a picture of Moses praying while the Israelites battled the Amalekites.
So, I stayed standing near my chair, and I prayed with my hands held high. I prayed for my pastor, I prayed for the DR, I prayed for the individuals – sometimes very specific prayers – and I prayed for the lead pastor of the church we were at, and much more. Even though I knew in my head that this is what I was supposed to do in that moment, I have often struggled with comparing my ministry to that of other pastors. I have struggled with feeling an outsider. I have struggled with feeling inadequate. I have struggled with disappointment that my path post-seminary was not what I thought it would be. I have wanted to be a leader in the church since I was a youth – the picture I had was that of a leader in the middle of things, not on the outside with her hands in the air looking like a goof.
But here is what God did tonight: He twist-turned this memory in my head and showed me how important the work that Moses did in this battle was. Every time his arms dipped, the Amalekites prevailed in the battle, but every time they were raised, the Israelites prevailed. When I first heard this story as a youth, I didn’t want to be one of the Israelites on the battle ground. No. I wanted to be Moses or Aaron – out front, having intimate conversations with God and leading His people. Tonight, while reading a kid’s Bible, God showed me just how important that time of prayer and my role in it was.
This is what God does when we spend time with Him. He twist-turns our difficulties and uses them to expand His kingdom and to refine us. How has God been refining you lately? How has He used you to expand His kingdom? How has he helped you re-vision an old memory?