Engage

Failed First Day

For most of us, first days on the job are fretful, fascinating, and fixed. You fuss over your outfit and fight the traffic. You follow signs to HR and finish paperwork. You find out what’s for lunch and which desk will be yours. The afternoon fills with phone tutorials, IT logins, and a few more introductions.

For most of us, first days on the job are fretful, fascinating, and fixed. You fuss over your outfit and fight the traffic. You follow signs to HR and finish paperwork. You find out what’s for lunch and which desk will be yours. The afternoon fills with phone tutorials, IT logins, and a few more introductions.

By five o’clock you’ve made 30 new friends, or at least have to remember their names. You’ve been entrusted with more information than you could ever remember or write down. And you’re bursting with ambition—just like the first day of school. Your pencils are sharpened, your lunch is packed, and you’re ready to conquer first grade.

But unlike my first days on the job, Moses experienced a drastically different debacle. His first days as the new leader of Israel include a Pharaoh who laughs in his face, foremen who blame him for their increased workload, and a faithless conversation with God about the whole situation. You could say that Moses received an “F” on his first assignment. Things are looking dim, and Moses is ready to trade in his staff.

He says to God, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22–23).

When life ruffles Moses, he turns to God. A good first step, but things spiral downward from there. Moses indicts God on two accounts—he brought evil to Israel, and messed up Moses’ calling. The reason Moses gripes at God is because he believes God isn’t holding up his end of the deal.

It sounds like something I’d pray. When life fails me, I’m quick to blame God. And when things don’t go how I expect, I question whether God really called me to the task. At the core of these questions, lies faithlessness. Moses isn’t sure God is good—and some days I’m not either.

Moses questions God’s purpose and ultimately his character. Why does God allow evil? Why does he let me fail? Either God is not good or the situation surprised him. Both options indict God’s character and reveal my lack of faith.  

But God’s sovereignty isn’t always simple, and his goodness isn’t always gentle. Life is seldom seamless or glossy. Rather God snakes me through foils, fights, and failures to reveal my faulty faith.  

After turning in my resignation to pursue writing, I thought this new season would be simple. It’s not—it’s been fraught with struggles just like the last one. But I’m learning it’s not my situation but my perspective that’s faulty and flawed. Difficulties and disappointments teach me dependence. That’s God’s goal.

Moses might have failed at first glance. But God didn’t give up on him. Failure is God’s school of faith. Perhaps I’ll start studying—I might just see God’s work.

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Amanda DeWitt

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.