On a student’s door, a postcard bearing the legend:
“I have not made up my mind whether to be a shining example or a horrible warning.”
Whenever I think of these words, I also think of Moses, who probably never had the opportunity to make up his mind, but came by a roudabout way to be a bit of both. As I read about his life, it reassures me that the one man in his time who God called his friend was as humanly capable of messing things up as I am, and it reminds me that “the potter’s hand” has fairly extravagant way of throwing pots.
Welcome to the first post in a mini-series, perhaps misleadingly mistitled, “Fatherhood Friday”. I’m not giving parenting tips here but I am tipping my hat to those who have provided gracious guidance, inspiration and wisdom in a fatherly way even though I never met them. I want to aknowledge what I have somehow inherited from each of these men, and it may be a surprise who crops up in my list of spiritual fathers.
Four things Papa Mo’ left to me:
It’s pointless trying to protect your reputation.
Neither my blunders or my triumphs are likely to be written in scripture or become a thousand year bestseller but any attempt to manage my image for future generations is still pointless. I learned from Moses that to be God’s friend there is such an anihilation of self and vanity that you give up your right to manage your own repuation. Even your faults will ultimately put your Friend in a better light, and that is the whole point.
It takes time to grow a man.
Moses’ life is in three phases. In his first 40 years in Egypt, he learned to be a good Egyptian and enjoyed the best education in one the most advanced civilisation of his time. In spite of such an auspicious start, his training was not over and he spent another 40 years in obscurity, exiled and looking after flocks in the wilderness. Finally, after 80 years he is called reluctantly to undertake the life’s work for which he is so famous: leading a few million Hebrews out of slavery both physically and mentally.
Get burned once and you spend the rest of your life jumping in fires.
On one famous occasion, Moses came incredibly close to the Fire. He saw it in a burning bush. From that point on he was so intoxicated with it that, given the opportunity years later to ask for anything he wished, he just asked for more: “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” Whenever I become aware of the piercing hunger that sits in my life like an offstage prompt, shouting lines at me when I lose my way, I remember that it’s just my longing for the Fire and father Moses went there before me.
We are here for as long as we are here and we have to do what we must do.
It must have been hard for Moses, standing between the tornado of Yahweh and the rickety barn of Israel; especially when the tornado was his storehouse and the barn sucked all the breath out of him. But stand he did, because there was no-one else to do his job.
Well … this time next week, another father figure (I think it might be Mevlana whose body turned as fine as soul in the moonlight) and a few more lessons in life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear who makes it onto your list of spiritual fathers?