People Who Say Such Things: Know the Difference Between Their Importance and Their Worth


March 9, 2020

Exodus 3:1 (NIV)

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 


The mountain of God is at the far side of the wilderness. 

Did you catch that? The mountain of God is at the far side of the wilderness. It rings true doesn’t it? This is physical geography yet it is also spiritual geography. 

From a condemned infant slave to the palace of Pharaoh, Moses enjoyed extreme privilege in the first season of his life. From the peak of power to the wilderness of Midian, He experienced great obscurity in the second season of his life. The text is careful to tell he herds not his own sheep but those of his Father-in-Law, Jethro. These incredible shifts of fortune pale in comparison to what happens next. 

After decades of punching the clock, Moses finds himself in the midst of another long day, perhaps day dreaming about retirement, if there was such a thing in those days. He’s probably somewhere between 70 and 80, somewhere between death and dying, somewhere between cynicism and nothing to look forward to. He stands in front of a metaphorical “You are Here,” sign: 

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

It’s the far side of the wilderness. And it is the mountain of God. He has lived some forty years in this valley of vision, preparing for this next moment, which will open the door into a pilgrimage to another mountain of God, Mt. Sinai, and yet another forty years of wilderness wandering. 

It is easy to look back from the vantage point of the whole story and marvel at the greatness of Moses and his signal importance to the will of God; yet the only reason we even know about his life is because of late life encounter with God at a bush on fire yet not burning up. Biographies aren’t typically written until the end of one’s story. I wonder how many other shepherds passed by the same burning bush and didn’t even notice. We could just as well be reading about them instead. 

There was something about Moses. He was different. We remember his extraordinary life yet we tend to brush over the extraordinary difficulties of his life. By my math, he wandered in the wilderness for a solid 80 of his 120 years. 

Sometimes it takes a long season in the wilderness to learn the difference between one’s importance and their worth. Sometimes it takes being sidelined by failure or exiled by circumstances or the meaninglessness of a menial job to remind us that our worth doesn’t come from what we can do for God but from who we are in Christ. 

I’m writing to a college student who needs to know Jesus doesn’t need their skills and resume to change the world. He wants your heart. 

I’m writing to a young-ish mother who feels as though she has lost herself in diapers and dishes. Jesus is not interested in the former dreams of your earlier life. He wants your heart right now. 

I’m writing to a pastor somewhere between 35 and 45 who is angry at the mediocrity of the church and determined to do something about it. Jesus is not interested in your tireless ambition to make him great. He wants your heart.  

I’m writing to a retired person who has mistaken their dreams for a relatively comfortable life. Jesus is not interested in fortunes and facelifts. He wants your heart. 

I’m writing to myself with all my self-important notions of grandeur to sow for a great awakening. Jesus is not interested in your noble ambitions. He wants your heart. 

If these words feel crushing, as they do for me, it’s probably because they need to. This is the far side of the wilderness, after all, the place they call the mountain of God. It’s the altar where our earth-bound dreams come to die that the vision of Heaven might be birthed in our hearts—anew, afresh, or maybe for the very first time. 

I’ll see you back here tomorrow for the fire-works. 


Father, I want to be a person who says such things. I want you to have my heart. I am weary of my own best ideas and plans. I’m tired of walking in circles. I am only willing to wander if it is your will, for then it will be my calling and privilege. Lead me to the far side of the wilderness; indeed to the mountain of God. Come Holy Spirit, and train me to be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 


How have you come to a deepened understanding of the different between your importance and your worth? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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