Summary: Difficult times help us reach Spiritual Maturity
“Cuttin’ Teeth in Midian” (Exodus 2:11-23)
When Moses fled Egypt, he lacked the spiritual maturity necessary for his God-given destiny. Just like Moses, our unfulfilled destinies are linked to our own spiritual immaturity. Because of this, God allowed time for Moses to mature in Midian, a setting where his spiritual life could grow, and he could come to know God. You see, although he was a grown man, he was still a relative baby in his knowledge of God and how God operates.
A baby! Think about babies…Babies undergo so many changes that it is fascinating to watch them grow; moving from one stage to another, they transform before our very eyes. This transformation also includes a very interesting time, commonly referred to as “cuttin’ teeth.” I have several younger cousins who I watched grow to adulthood, and the time when they cut their teeth is still vivid in my mind. In this stage, they went through a period of intense sensitivity – their demeanor, their physical well-being, and their behavior towards those around them – all changed as a result of the discomfort that they experienced, “cutting teeth.” Indeed, cutting teeth is not the most exciting time on most parents’ lists.
Because of this, the phrase cutting teeth has become synonymous with the growing up process. And although THIS room is filled with a variety of ages, from newborns to those approaching one century, it goes with out saying that there are ALSO some SPIRITUAL infants here, cuttin’ teeth in their own PRIVATE Midian. Spiritual infants – as Paul alludes to, who have not yet been prepared for the challenges and difficulties of discipleship, and who are still struggling with issues of spiritual infancy.
Still dealing with who Jesus was, and what it means to be baptized, what it means to be a Christian, and what is my purpose. Spiritual infants – people who are not quite ready to fulfill their destinies because they have an under developed relationship with God, that ONLY comes through the trials and tribulation of a Midian experience – they are STILL “cuttin’ teeth.” This text clearly shows us that God allowed time for Moses to grow up, to cut his teeth, in the land of Midian.
One obvious question is, “Where was Midian?” Midian was in Northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Gulf of Aqaba, approximately 285 miles from the Egyptian city of Ramses from which it is believed Moses fled. To give you a better idea of this distance it was like leaving Norfolk, VA and going just past Trenton, New Jersey or a few miles short of Charleston, West Virginia. Moses had to flee such a distance because the Egyptian territory consisted of so much land. And this was no easy escape, for there were no cars to take him to his destination. No trains, or planes were available either… As a matter of fact, the text does not give us any clear method of Moses’ travel…leaving us to imagine Moses as the original Fugitive… in order to travel 285 miles undetected by the searching Egyptians, I’m sure Moses had to humble himself and hide out temporarily with some folks he did not know. Outside the palace walls, he probably gained some first hand experience as to how others lived who were not privileged to be raised in Pharoah’s house. One of the first signs of a Midian experience is having to deal with people that you would not ordinarily have to deal with! Check your companions…you may be headed to your Midian!
But, DON’T GET IT TWISTED, Midian doesn’t have to be somewhere that is far away, either…No! Midian can be an event, a situation, a time, a disappointment, a health condition, a WHATEVER….that forces you into a period where you and God become intimately involved in a way that you had not previously known him.
For you, Midian could be retirement from a job, where the comfort of a twenty or thirty year salary level, with bonuses and COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS, is being replaced with a pension and social security… and you can’t see your way to the end of the month. OR your Midian could be cancer, that COMES…G0ES… and COMES AGAIN…and your faith is challenged to the point that you despairingly wonder IF God’s hand is in fact UNCHANGING… I DON’T KNOW…Maybe your Midian is a recently deceased loved one, who was such an integral part of your life…and now you don’t know whether you are coming or going…Or perhaps someone that you love, a son, daughter, husband or wife…has been diagnosed with HIV… MOST OF ALL, MIDIAN could be the results of your sinful lifestyle, a life spent pursuing the things that are not of God…and that pursuit has led you to a place in your life where you must now face painful and embarrassing consequences…in your own private Midian.