Standing Up to Our Pharaohs


nichole forbes -pharaoh3

Sometimes I lose myself in fall and not in a wistful, dreamy way. In a soul-draining, 40-years-in-the-wilderness, passionless sort of lost way.

Then there’s the time between fall and winter—the In-Between Time. The time between the busyness of routine and the stillness that snow and cold and the holiness of Christmas brings. The time when I have time to lift my head and look beyond myself. That is what this time is.

It’s the exhale before taking a big breath.
It’s the remembering who I am and why I am.
It’s the returning to myself.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a team meeting. I was weary and feeling disconnected from my purpose on this team and, somewhat, in my life. We had had some very rocky days and it felt like we’d been putting out fires for months. It was exhausting and frustrating. After spending 45 minutes reviewing what had been going on and how it was being handled, one of the people on the team asked, “What are the Pharaohs we need to stand up to?” With that one simple sentence something clicked deep within me.

What are the Pharaohs we need to stand up to?

When Moses confronted Pharaoh, he was not in a position of obvious strength. Moses had spent decades hiding in shame and wallowing in his past. He was a man without a country or blood family. He was in exile. He had forgotten himself. He remembered Pharaoh’s position and authority and power but He had forgotten that he, once upon a time, had been Pharaoh’s equal. He had been Pharaoh’s brother. He had been Pharaoh’s right hand man.

Moses forgot, but God didn’t.

In the moment that God called out to Moses to return to Egypt, Moses panicked. He had tunnel vision. He saw sheep and wilderness and, well, sheep. He knew himself to be a farmer, a simple man of the land. He had forgotten his strength. He had forgotten the sound of his own voice when raised in authority. He had forgotten the power of his body when raised up in righteous leadership.

Moses forgot, but God didn’t.

When God called to Moses, Moses asked, “Who am I?” God didn’t answer Moses’ question—at least, not directly. God just told Moses that he wasn’t in this on his own. God reminded Moses who God is. God is ehyeh asher ehyeh. “I am who I am.” Or, as I learned recently, “I will be who I will be.”

I will be who I will be. And I am with you.

In that exhale God promised to be everything Moses needed. Just sit with that for a minute. Everything Moses needed or would ever need—God had it covered. It didn’t matter who Moses was, who he had been or who he’d become. It didn’t matter what Pharaoh stood between him and the people God had called him to liberate, because God was right there, being Everything all the time.

Armed with little more than this truth, Moses marched into Pharaoh’s house, opened his mouth and suddenly remembered who he was. He was the guy who was with God. He was the guy who had Everything.

Moses remembered. And so did I.

As I sat in that meeting and remembered God’s promise to Moses, I claimed it for my own. I remembered to look up, to see beyond the wilderness and busyness. I looked to the horizon and felt my Everything—in me, around me and in front of me. I remembered that my personal Pharaohs have nothing on my personal Everything.

I remembered that there is more to me than problem solving and putting out fires.
I remembered my strength, my creativity, my clever mind and my witty humor.
I remembered my compassionate heart and my gift of communication.
I remembered the sound of my own voice raised in authority and encouragement.
I remembered the strength of my pen, gliding over paper, as words of life flowed out.
I remembered the stillness of my spirit as I waited with confident anticipation for the voice of my Everything to comfort, guide and empower me.
I remembered the feeling of the first flutter of inspiration.
I remembered the knowledge that God sees me, knows me and loves me.

I remembered. And I returned to myself.

No pharaoh I could ever face could be greater than the things called forth by my Everything. No pharaoh could ever be stronger than the covenant my Everything made to be my God and to take me as his daughter. No pharaoh could ever be more present than my Everything with me and I with Him.

That is Everything. What do you remember about yourself?