Exodus is full of high drama, from burning bushes to a death angel to a parted sea. But in the middle of those stories sits a rather ordinary one about Jethro’s visit to the Israelite camp. Why does this matter? Some miracles are of such scale, they catch the public eye. And while the miracle of a family or friendship working is more quiet, it can also be more wonderful.
Jethro came to bring Moses’ family back to him. While he probably loved having Zipporah near him and enjoyed interacting with his grandkids every day, he prioritized his daughter’s marriage and immediate family over his needs. He communicated with Moses, sending word ahead to say he was coming and Moses went out to meet him, bowed, kissed him, asked after his wellbeing (as Jethro did Moses) and went into a tent where Moses told Jethro everything.
Moses wanted to talk to Jethro. He wanted to share what had happened and didn’t just sum up or hit the highlights. As a parent or friend or spouse, do our people want to share with us? Are they eager to tell us what’s happening with them? Do they have confidence we’ll give our full attention and be interested in what they say? Will we make time for them or have to cut things short to rush out the door? The way Moses shared suggests he was used to Jethro listening well.
And what did Jethro do when Moses finished? Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the Lord had done for Israel… He celebrated what God and Moses had done together. He didn’t take credit or tell Moses where he could’ve done better. He didn’t belittle or dismiss the victories. He didn’t change the subject. If Jethro were in the habit of responding poorly to his son-in-law’s success, Moses wouldn’t have been eager to share. Have I taken the temperature of my responses? Am I encouraging or discouraging? Do I get one word answers from people? Have they mastered answering without giving anything away? These are all signs they may be protecting themselves from my hurtful responses.
Have I taken the temperature of my responses? Am I encouraging or discouraging?
One prayer we can pray to calm ourselves is, “Please help my people.” Godde does the saving – always has. If we can lay down leading people, we can take our rightful place, walking next to them. Another prayer that calms me is, “Godde goes before us, gentling the way.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to walk with that isn’t impatient with you, doesn’t have an agenda, and isn’t hiding a cattle prod behind their backs? Fear for those we love makes us antsy and often comes out in corrections and warnings. I go here regularly and ask myself, “Is Godde handling their life, or what?” I remember Godde is capable and more tenderhearted than I am. It helps me unclench my shoulders, take a deep breath and pretty soon, curiosity bubbles up inside me, wondering what my person is trying to tell me. I have room to feel honored that the person they want to understand them is me. When their news is good, we celebrate. If it’s bad, we witness their pain without trying to slap a bandaide on it. If Moses had bad news to tell, I like to imagine Jethro wouldn’t have overwhelmed him with Bible promises or advice. May we have Jethro’s grace to show up for people with open ears and open hearts.