“And Moses was content to dwell with the man (Jethro): and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he (Moses) called his name Gershom: for he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a strange land.’”
Exodus 2: 21, 22
King James Version
“Love Blooms in the Desert”
“Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.”
Anthony de Mello
What type of relationship do I have with the people I love?
Do I love them as they are or do I want them to change to suit my own personal needs?
“Love seeks only one thing; the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”
“To love is to be willing to put the beloved in the first place.”
For nearly 40 years he had been the pampered son of the princess of Egypt, the Pharaoh’s grandson, no less. Idolized for his proficiency at all he attempted, Moses became the darling of family and friends. Thinking that his stature in society would somehow protect him from the rules that applied to the common folk, Moses took it upon himself to settle a score. When he came upon an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, the crown prince stepped into the situation and killed the Egyptian.
You would think his secret would be safe with one of his Hebrew countrymen, but to surmise this would be foolish. Instead of being hailed as a hero, Moses was betrayed as a bully. When he came upon two Hebrews fighting, he was taunted with, “Are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian?” All of a sudden Moses became a wanted man and his only option was to flee the country he had been groomed to rule. The Bible tells us in Exodus 2: 15, that, “Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian and he sat down by a well.” This same passage continues by informing us that the priest of Midian, Jethro, had seven daughters who came to the well where Moses had stopped to rest. As these girls filled the troughs to get water for their father’s flocks, some shepherds came by and tried to drive them away. They probably would have succeeded except that Moses came to the girls’ rescue and intervened. But he did even more. He took it upon himself to water the girls’ sheep. When Jethro’s daughters arrived home early, their father inquired as to why they had finished so quickly. They explained. “Egyptian delivered us.” Still clothed like the people in the country from which he fled, when Jethro’s family saw Moses, they believed he was a resident of Egypt.
In Midian, Moses found that the inhabitants of this harsh desert land connected to the Ishmaelites in Arabia. We find this fact in Genesis 37 in the story of when Joseph was sold by the Midianites to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt. There’s more. The Midianites were descendants of the fourth son of Keturah. Remember her? She was the woman Abraham married in Canaan after his wife Sarah died. To get this genealogy correct – the Israelites were the descendants of Abraham and Sarah’s marriage; the Ishmalites were the descendants of Abraham and Hagar’s sexual union; and finally, the Midianites were the descendants of Abraham and Keturah’s marriage. The bottom line in this saga is that all these descendants were half-siblings. They all had the same father but each group had a different mother. Now that’s enough to cause family tension and chaos right off the bat.
Then a handsome man walked into the camp of Jethro and his seven daughters. If we follow tradition at that time, fathers arranged the marriages of their daughters, usually in chronological order. If we recall, Laban married off his daughters Leah and Rachel to his nephew Jacob. His reason for pawning off Leah on the unsuspecting Jacob was that the oldest had to be the first girl to get married. If none of the other daughters of Jethro were married, it is likely Zipporah was the oldest. As the firstborn daughter of the priest of Midian, she was a respected and honored woman.
When Zipporah’s father Jethro gave her in marriage to Moses, this would have been a very precious gift indeed.
This brings me to the lesson of our devotional today. It centers around the word, “expectation.” Author Elizabeth Bowen wrote, “Expectations are the most perilous form of dreams, and when dreams do realize themselves it is in the waking world; the difference is subtly but often painfully felt.” The truth of this statement becomes crystal clear in the “waking world” of marriage which is lived in the real world.
Just think about the two worlds of expectations that collided when Moses and Zipporah married – the daughter of a desert priest and the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. The future ruler of Egypt and a daughter hoping for her prince-to-come. What Zipporah got in reality was a Hebrew herder who for 40 years followed her father’s sheep around the desert and then for another 40 years followed a herd of grumbling Israelites around the desert. And what Moses got was a girl who most likely longed to live a quiet life close to family and friends within the familiar territory of Midian. What lay ahead and what transpired in both their lives was not seen or expected when they first met and married.
The same can be said for you and me. When we meet that “one and only” or the person we hope will be our “one and only,” we too have expectations. We dream that happiness like rose petals will be showered on our path. I’m thankful we all have hopes like this when we are young. But as reality sets in, we find that when our desires and longings aren’t met, we become disillusioned and think the one we are with is “less than.”
In thinking about my own life, I’ve found that unmet expectations have been at the heart of many of my own disappointments and the same may be in your life, as well! Finally, I recognized that finding the “right person” wasn’t half as important as learning, with God’s help, to be the “right” person.
I think Ruth Graham, wife of Evangelist Billy Graham, described a good marriage perfectly when she said, “A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.”
The love that holds people together in a relationship should be expressed like God’s love toward each of us. Oliver McTernan describes this love as one that, “Allows us space to make mistakes, a love that is not possessive, jealous, or intrusive.”
As I develop relationships in my own life, I need to remember that in God’s eyes I am always and continue to remain loveable by a God who embraces me unconditionally, even when I don’t meet His expectations. This is the kind of love I pray I can offer to those in my life whom I promise to love forever.
“Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning a handspring or eating with chopsticks: it looks so easy until you try it.”
“In the true marriage relation, the independence of the husband and wife is equal, the dependence mutual and their obligations reciprocal.”
“Eternal God, author of harmony and happiness, we thank You for the gift of marriage in which men and women may seek and find the consummation of bodily union, the satisfaction of life-long companionship, and the fulfillment of creative and responsible parenthood. Give patience to those who look forward to marriage; Give courage to those who face trials within their marriage; Give comfort to those whose marriage has broken; and to those whose marriages are successful and fruitful give gratitude and understanding, that they may be examples to all of Your great love. Through Jesus our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus