What if Moses had Stayed: Offering Obedience

I don’t believe Moses ever considered himself brave.

Yes, throughout his long lifetime, the Lord developed him into a strong and mighty leader. But a personality profile might have identified him as cautious. Skeptical. Guarded. Apprehensive. He might have been labeled as fearful—especially during the time he spent as a shepherd in Midian.

God’s Word reveals that there were periods when Moses was afraid. He fled. He hesitated. He resisted. But eventually, even amid his fear and apprehension, Moses obeyed the Lord’s instruction. And the rest is beloved history.

We’d do well to follow suit: to obey the Lord despite nerves or frightened trembling. God calls us to submission and surrender to His will, even during times when we don’t seem to have the support of our loved ones, or the means to follow a new course.

Moses stepped into service while feeling everything inside of him shrink in the opposite direction. I admire his offering of obedience as a holy sacrifice to the Lord, mustering the courage to “do it scared”. As a result, Moses and the people he led received blessings far beyond any earthly treasure.

The Cost of Offering Obedience

Offering obedience sometimes seems easy: as the next logical and right course to take. Conversely, there are times when obedience brings a high cost, such as physical effort, pushing beyond natural abilities, and losing some of the things (and people) we hold dear.

Offering obedience to God sometimes means doing the exact opposite of what our friends would advise. It requires trusting God with every outcome.

Not all that long ago, I was walking along a path that I believe the Lord had prepared before me. Suddenly, He stopped me in my tracks, shining a bright light on a fork in the road. My friends, resources, and support systems were on the main path, but I clearly discerned that the Lord was leading me to turn. I weighed the cost.

If I followed Him, I’d leave a lot behind. I’d give up comfort and ease, friendship, finances, and encouragement. To follow the Lord on the new path would mean facing new challenges—without my peers—and stepping into the unknown. Obedience would require courage, trust, and surrender. I didn’t feel equipped for the task, but timidly turned away from the familiar and followed God as He led me in a new direction.

When the Lord Reveals a New Path

Moses had a similar experience. Perhaps you have too.

God interrupted Moses’s comfortable routine and familiar work when he visited at the burning bush. The Lord revealed a new path to Moses, and the shepherd counted the cost. Scripture doesn’t reveal exactly what Moses was feeling but I can imagine a few of his reasons for not desiring to follow the Lord back to Egypt.

When the Lord steps into our lives and offers surprising instruction, we might offer similar excuses and explain to Him why we can’t follow right now:

  • Moses’s life as a shepherd was comfortable. We, too, can get comfortable in our jobs, churches, and friendships.
  • Moses had support, encouragement, and acceptance from his new Midian family. It’s not easy to think about leaving a supportive network, is it?
  • Routines and surroundings for Moses felt familiar. Familiarity fits like a well-worn pair of blue jeans—the ones we’d put on every single day if we could.
  • Moses felt unqualified. When the Lord calls us into service, we, too, can feel that we don’t have what it takes.
  • I imagine that Moses’s wife shirked at the idea of leaving her family behind. We don’t enjoy imposing sadness onto our loved ones.
  • Perhaps Moses had assigned duties to perform—who might step in to fulfill them? We often allow our current responsibilities keep us from following God’s lead.

What if Moses Had Stayed in Midian?

Moses had a choice to make. He could ignore the Lord’s direction and stay in Midian. Or he could follow the Lord Most High and engage with the Lord and His mighty purposes.

Reasons to follow God were many. As a Hebrew, Moses understood the Lord’s sovereignty. The supernatural experience of the burning bush paired with divine instruction must have seemed quite compelling. The Lord also promised to go with Moses, to help him, and even to work signs and miracles through him. The Almighty provided a familiar helper in Moses’ brother, Aaron, and revealed the weighty needs of the Hebrew people.

But what if Moses had stayed in Midian, choosing to remain where his life was routine, comfortable, and predictable? What if he’d stayed put when his loved ones didn’t want to lose him? What if he’d stayed to offer protection to his family and fulfill his duties as a shepherd?

We know God can do anything through whomever He chooses. He needed nothing from Moses but chose to use him as His servant. The Israelites would have still received deliverance but through the hands of a different faithful servant.

Moses would have felt the impacts of disobedience personally. God had prepared Moses from infancy, knitting his life experiences, his talents, and his connections together to fully prepare him for the lofty assignment of leading God’s people to deliverance. Had he stayed, I believe Moses would have faced a life of regret, wondering how God might have used him if he’d obeyed. His life would have remained comfortable but after such a powerful invitation, may have quickly grown to feel mundane, even boring. Moses may have experienced plaguing, unfulfilled longings as he remained a shepherd.

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Blessings of Obedience

Moses took a colossal leap of faith when he placed his wife and sons on a donkey, said farewell to friends and family, and followed hard after God. Through his obedience, Moses experienced the presence and glory of the Lord as no other person has had the opportunity. He talked with God face to face as with a friend. He witnessed the Lord’s supernatural involvement, protection, and provision as the Jewish nation moved from captivity to deliverance. Moses learned to lean on God for every need and faced consequences when he operated in his own power.

Moses could have stayed, but he made the choice to go. His decision blessed generations of people and still impacts us today.

On a much smaller scale, I believe the Lord prompts us to do something unexpected every day. How will we respond? Will we offer excuses and stand our ground? Or will we lay down our security and our pride and follow wholeheartedly after Him? As we count the cost, will we surrender to His ways, knowing they’re best for everyone involved? Will we sacrifice possessions, comfort, and as much as certain friendships to pursue God’s path?

Will we offer obedience?

May the Lord strengthen you through His word today –

Cathy McIntosh




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