Anyone else relate to Moses from today’s reading in Chapters 3 and 4 of Facing Danger: A Guide Through Risk by Dr Anna E Hampton?
Author Dr. Anna exegeted part of Exodus 17 and said, “Apparently, Moses at first did not realize the role he was to play in the battle.” So, when we do not realize our part, apparently, that can be part of the process. She goes on to say, “He had planned to go and stand at the top of the hill overlooking the valley where the battle was to take place. It seemed there must have been a process for him, Aaron, and Hur to realize the significance of Moses’s hands remaining lifted with the staff of God in them.”
Reflecting on her observations, I wonder what the process was like. Did it dawn on Hur first? “Hey, you guys, did you see what happened when Moses took a break?” Was it Aaron’s idea to use the rock for Moses to sit on?
When it comes to risk and battle, it is a comfort this story was included in the Bible. It frees us up from the myth of having to get everything right the first time and opens the door for some experimentation and observation in ministry. In particular, for many of us from western contexts that value individualism, here we have a model of ministry in a stressful situation.
I hadn’t noticed the progression of the hands in the passage, culminating with “God’s sitting on his throne; he’s not wringing his hands, worried about the Amalekites. He knows the end plan.” Dr. Anna used the word comforting in that sentence, and indeed it is. Given the natural, political, and social “battles” going on around the world, God is not thrown by them. I do not want to offer easy answers here, but I echo Dr. Anna that it is a comfort knowing God is on the throne.
I cheered later in chapter three when she wrote, “Notice I didn’t say ‘just have faith.’ . . . that has never been a helpful phrase for me in times of risk or danger. How does one ‘just have faith’ anyhow?” One of the nuggets from this chapter followed. “Who or what do you look up to when things get stressful? This is an indicator of how you will respond in risk situations. It many not be a nude woman on the mountain in the form of a wood pole, but is it a nude woman on the internet? Is it overeating? How about alcohol? Whatever our coping mechanisms for normal ‘stress’ in our home cultures, this will automatically be magnified a hundred-fold in risk situations.”
This chapter included four spiritual principles that can apply to us today as well:
- Steadiness of Actions
- Stay in Community
- Understanding our Enemy
- Look Up
She also listed five principles for Warfare preparation. I appreciate the modern application of why someone(s) may not go “into battle” due to unfinished business back home with the house of work responsibilities. I wanted to applaud the entire conclusion to Chapter three.
I was reading along in Chapter four and Dr. Anna’s use of the parable of the talents to look at stewardship followed up by the woman with the alabaster vase. She asks, “Do we increase the Master’s talents, or do we break the vase and pour out our lives for him? Both take risks, but one appears calculated and responsible and the other is more like gambling, wasteful, risking it all recklessly.”
In the same section she writes, “Those in the West are from a cultural worldview that demands a formula, a process, or a three-step guide. . . . Prophets like Jeremiah were faithful their whole lives, but in the end the stewardship of his ministry, if measured by Western church metrics of investment and return on investment, would have virtually nothing to show. Sadly, I suspect Jeremiah wouldn’t have been able to pass the modern Western church’s threshold for success.”
This section challenged me to consider how coming from the West has formed my sense of success and stewardship. (Also, I have to throw in here, how reading biographies of so-called famous cross-cultural workers and what their lives looked like. I was formed by that as much as by the church. That is why places like Velvet Ashes and A Life Overseas are needed!)
On the day I wrote this post, a couple of the Connection Group Facilitators shared in a secret Facebook group for leaders that their groups were not as responsive as they had hoped. It is easy to understand why they might feel like a failure. But is it a failure if they are faithful to be present to their group? To tag group members and reach out to them? While it might not feel as “fun” as a responsive group, others in the group encouraged them that they had been faithful in stewarding that which had been given to them.
These are important discussions to keep having because our ideas of success, failure, and stewardship are not calibrated once and then set for life. God keeps working in each of us to conform our thinking and understanding to be more like his.
I’m grateful to be reading this book with you and discussing risk, warfare, and being custodians with you. What stood out? I’ll see you in the comments.
P.S. Next week? Chapters 5 and 6