Saturday, March 08, 2014

A Second Chance

I never expected another chance. Forty years before it had all been over. So many hopes, so many dreams ... I used to daydream back then, in that other life of mine, and imagine myself as the great liberator of my people. Surely I was uniquely placed to do so, the only one in the whole land of Egypt who could? Nobody else that I had ever heard of had a despised slave for a mother, and a princess (Pharaoh’s daughter, no less!) for a foster mother. I knew, and really cared about, the oppression of my people. I had dried the tears of my sister and my mother; I had seen the lash marks on my father’s back; I had the desperate prayers and pleas of their friends. I had been there, in the huts of the detestable slaves, and I had seen their lack compared to their neighbours. I had turned away in sorrow from the pain in the eyes of women whose children had been thrown in the Nile. It was a shameful and horrible thing that the inheritors of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should have no land, no hope and no future.

Yet I had such privilege. As an adopted son of the palace, all wealth and learning were mine, and with privilege comes power. But for all my learning, for all my high ideals, when the moment came, I proved to be a fool, and threw it all away.

It was, you might say, just another day in Egypt. The sun was hot and tempers were short, and the pain of my people ached in my breast as if I had swallowed a massive stone. Less and less did I feel at home amongst the shaded rooms of the palace; and so, like a man who cannot resist scratching an itch, I would wander down to the construction site, where the latest draft of Hebrew slaves were bending to labour under the bitter lash of their masters. It was not the first time I had seen a slave beaten, but for some reason, in that moment, the cumulative injustice pushed me over into blind rage, and, seeing there was no one around to notice, I struck down and killed the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. I thought myself undiscovered, but that delusion lasted less than 24 hours, before I found out that it was known and not much longer before I found that I had to flee the wrath of Pharaoh if I wanted to preserve my life.

And so I dwindled. Dead to my hopes, dislocated from my dreams, I became just another nomadic shepherd in the wild country of the desert. I thanked God for my wife, for my sons, for the gift of freedom, but somewhere deep inside me the ache of my people’s pain remained ... until the day when I met my God in the bush that would not burn away. It is hard to believe, after so great a silence, so long a dearth, that God himself should resurrect the innermost longing of my broken heart. Yet so it is, He has heard, he has seen, He has called me and I must go. Once I went forth in confidence, believing myself a chosen instrument of justice, and everything I tried went horribly amiss. This time I will go in fear and trembling, not believing in myself at all, but responding only to God’s irrevocable call. Maybe this time the miracle will happen.

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