When I made the transition to my true people, the Hebrews, I led them with grace and the undeniable power of God. My calling at the burning bush and the plagues of Egypt led us to exodus and the freedom of the nation of God's people. The parting of the Red Sea gave us a sense of purpose and destiny, and nothing seemed impossible with heaven on our side.
With a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, I led our people for a generation. We were fed with manna and walked according to His law, which I received from God Himself on the mountain. We built the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle of His presence and while He prepared us in the desert, I wrote the first five books of holy Scripture. I helped shape and prepare Joshua to be my successor. It was an amazing time of God's leading and blessing in spite of our shortcomings. I was honored to be a leader for this time in our story.
But before that, I was sifted.
Before I was a leader, I was a murderer.
Passionate about justice, I had lobbied for the Hebrews to be treated well. It wasn't just that I was secretly one of them. As leaders, we had a responsibility to our people, to make their lives better and lead them to be part of a great nation. But many saw the Hebrews as a simple tool to be used up and discarded. They were, to some, a means to the end of the Great Pyramids and, honestly, not much more than that.
When I saw the overseer beating that Hebrew man, the action became everything that was wrong in the world all at once. The movement from thought to consideration to action all happened in a fluid line unbroken in my heart. When I acted, it was with icy precision and weighted, deliberate blows. I took everything he had and everything he ever would have in a moment. I did it with the intent to kill him.
Then I buried him in the sand.
Eventually, word of my actions spread and I was running for my life. Even Pharaoh had issued a death warrant for the crime. I fled Egypt, thinking I'd never return. I was promoted from prince to shepherd for my anger and lived that life mixed with the unbalanced feelings of guilt, unease, contentment and regret for almost 40 years.
God was faithful in His love for me, though my crime haunted me the rest of my life.
When He called me at the burning bush, I was murdering the Egyptian again in my mind. How could He use a man like me to lead? When we were fleeing and trapped before the Red Sea, I was wondering if my sin had doomed us all.
When I received the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," it was written in stone and tears.
And when I became angry and struck the rock for water, it wasn't about the moment of frustration. It was about the man I had been so many years ago. I was turning away from the life God had borne in me, back to a time when I acted on my own impulsive passion. I had tried to help God's people in my own way. That path was disaster for me, and looming disaster for the ones I serve.
In God's Hands and in His purpose, we're not defined by our mistakes. But He uses our repentance to shape us in ways I never would have imagined.
His will caused even my greatest character failings to lead me to His grace. He can use even our greatest regrets to teach and shape us into the people He wants us to be.
Look to God. Let your failures lead you to compassion and meekness in leadership. Let your weakness be a wall against pride and a reason to depend on Him even more.
"And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain" (Exodus 3:12).