I sometimes worry that Pharoah is my spirit animal.
If you have taken my (dare I say) absolutely brilliant advice and joined me in the Bible Reading Challenge, then you know we are currently in Exodus. My eldest quail became so engrossed in the story last night that I found her, wide-awake, drawing and listening to Exodus a solid hour past when we thought she was asleep (she was mortified; I was thrilled. What a cool reason to lose track of time!) — “I love the book of Moses!” I do too. Yet in the kindness and faithfulness of God, His Spirit brings different things to our attention each time we read and this morning, it hit me like a really heavy and prickling ton of bricks — Pharoah makes total sense to me, and maybe not for the reason you are thinking.
(Though, if you are an advice-taking tear, then possibly you have been staying up late reading all the back posts in the Archives and have learned to think upside down with me, so you may already know where I am headed. I promise — the nausea dies down eventually.)
When I put myself and my little book out into the world for publication, I had no idea what to expect. Well… ok… fame, fortune, interviews on Good Morning, America… but I had no concept that new, unsuccessful authors (I can admit it. I am about as good at selling books as I am at selling pianos, real estate, or broken mailboxes, which is to say, not) are catnip to ambitious scam artists with foreign roots.
Just yesterday, I received a call from someone who identified herself as Mary Parker, but who honestly sounded more like a Shikha Anumeha Raj, claiming to be a talent agent from Dreamworks, absolutely desperate to turn my book into a movie, and get me nominated for all sorts of awards, all while making Olive into bobble-heads and beer cozies. Ok, I am exaggerating — there was no mention of beer. It probably is not polite to howl with laughter over the phone to fake talent agents… my etiquette obviously needs a tweak. However, since in the last week, I have received easily 5 of this sort of call, not counting the emails, the hilarity would not be suppressed and I gave in to unladylike belly laughter, to her animated confusion.
On the one hand, they are obviously preying on the hunger for success that all authors have (whether they admit or not. Be real — you may have written it because you are serving the muse or because the writing spills out of you or whatever you have to tell yourself late at night after a book signing where no one but your mother came, but you won’t be miffed if a million people come clamoring after your autograph and want to turn your book into the next Harry Potter), but on the other, I am disappointed by their lack of creativity. I mean, at least come at me with something that could be believable — that the local tourism board wants to print a special edition, that a college professor wants to use my book as curriculum, that a hospital wants to make it part of a marketing campaign. There are so many ways you could get a person to hand over all their personal information! This band of jolly scammers is attempting to shoot the moon, and therein lies their problem.
It is not a problem that the devil has. He doesn’t have to push you to ruin your marriage by having an affair or taking up pole-dancing on street corners if he can get you to nurse discontent, to spend more time inwardly sighing about your marriage than you do thanking God for it. He knows that when it comes to rendering you useless in the fight against sin, in the very real spiritual warfare we are engaged in, he doesn’t have to pull a full-on Job’s wife — you don’t have to curse God and die. You could pull a shrugging Pharoah and be completely spiritually hamstrung.
It happens in the story more than once, but I was particularly struck today with the latter plagues and how Pharoah reaches the point of throwing up his hands and saying, basically, fine! Tell your God He has won, and get gone! Scram! And while you’re at it, put in a good word for me, because I am done tangoing with the Almighty! The problem, of course, is that there is a keen difference between irritated acceptance of what God is giving you (which you are lying about… you are just hoping that playing along will make the darkness and the bugs in your life go away so that you can get back to doing what you actually wanted to do) and the trusting surrender of a child. One of those responses has faith that parts oceans… the other sleeps with the fishes.
And that’s where you and I are today. God doesn’t only send plagues to the wicked. You can be faithfully following Him and still find yourself sitting in a lot of dark (ask Job). And herein lies the danger, herein lie the quiet temptations to just give up. Don’t pray about it — He’s the one who got you into this mess in the first place! If you go running to this God, He’ll destroy you. Don’t you have a friend you want to complain about your husband to? Now that might actually feel better… I mean, what kind of God asks you to shoulder such a heavy burden all by yourself? What kind of freedom is that??
The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it is the only way to fight the lies that come to scam you out of your joy in the midst of the very real darkness, the very real struggle. This darkness is God’s darkness — He took on the darkness at the cross and won. He owns it. He owns your current misery, He is not allowing temptations that He has not equipped you to resist! But you must resist — resist the temptation to grouse, to whine, to take the trial as an excuse to not do your duty, to not sing praises, to not speak kindly, to pull a Pharoah and wallow in the suffering while refusing to repent of the sin. So what, you can’t see your hand in front of your face! SING. LOUDER!! The Lord is mighty to save and if He doesn’t save you out of this trial, He will save you in the midst of it, and He will get the glory, not you… not Pharoah.