I’m a creature of habit when it comes to what I watch. I’m almost certain I’ve broken a world record for the number of times one person has watched Ratatouille.
There are plenty of shows and movies I watched as a kid that I still love as an adult. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella…Mulan…Spongebob…the Backyardigans…
But there’s something special about a piece of work you’ve known your whole life that means more to you the older you get.
Like every other kid that grew up going to church, I loved The Prince of Egypt. But watching it recently on a Friday night when I was in a horrible mood and desperate to put life’s tumultuous and tragic nature into perspective, something clicked for me for the first time.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this movie. I’d guess at least 10. And it always moves me. It’s a stunning depiction of one of the Bible’s most well known events.
But for the first time I felt like I wasn’t just watching a DreamWorks adaptation of Exodus.
It’s hard for me to think of biblical figures as real people with the same anxieties, motivations and shortcomings as the rest of us. Like, even when the Bible addresses their sins, they just seem cut from an entirely different cloth. Sure, they might occasionally hesitate to follow God’s commands, but in general they seem to be such incredible and dedicated disciples.
They would literally toil in abject poverty and thank God for the opportunity. And try as I might, I just couldn’t imagine a version of myself that was remotely capable of that.
Sometimes I’d read different stories from the Bible and feel like there was nothing for me to apply to my own life, because these people just weren’t like me. I didn’t have what it took to suffer for decades on end and hold onto my faith. I didn’t have their strength, I didn’t have their conviction and I didn’t have their patience. These people were just built different. We’d devolved a lot in the past however many thousand years.
I don’t know what made this time so different, but for the first time I saw Moses not as the man from Exodus, but as an actual human being I could relate to.
I recognized him as someone born into a life of leisure and luxury that liked to goof off and have fun. And I thought about how badly he probably wanted to ignore his heritage. How much easier his life would have been if he was able to silence his conscience.
I wondered if he ever resented God for making him an Israelite born into and raised by Egyptian royalty. I wondered if he wished he never knew who he really came from and could continue his life of prestige and privilege in ignorant bliss.
After fleeing Egypt, he headed for the sticks, became a shepherd and married a farm girl. A cottagecore icon if we’ve ever seen one. He started a simple, serene life and had found some contentment. Then God accosted him via bush and told him to not only return to Egypt, but confront the brother he loved dearly and liberate his people.
In the movie he’s initially overcome with excitement explaining to his father-in-law and wife what he experienced and what he must do. But I wondered if and when the excitement wore off. I wondered if he wished he could have just lived the rest of his life in peace with his sheep in the countryside. I wondered if he second guessed God, and why He chose him of all people to defeat his own brother. I wonder if he felt used by God, and not in a good way. I wonder if he felt like God didn’t care about him or his pain.
And I’ll never know what exactly Moses was feeling.
But for the first time it occurred to me that he could have very well had the same kinds of questions I do. He could have been just as confused and angry with God as I’ve been – but it didn’t matter.
Because he was able to overcome whatever he was feeling and thinking to do what God told him to.
God has never promised us easy lives. But He did promise us he had a plan for them. For most of us, that plan probably includes heartache, injustice and hardship that we won’t understand and will struggle to navigate. But we should trust Him anyway, because only God knows what He has in store for us, and only God knows what He’s capable of.
I can’t bring myself to say that our feelings don’t matter, because I don’t think I really believe it. I’m a woman, I’m a writer, I’m an enneagram 4…all I do is feel. But any self aware person can admit that their feelings have deceived them, misguided them and betrayed them…and God never will.