Hero training has never been sunshine and butterflies: biblical archtypes that still resonate

Geo-politics aside, the story of the Exodus is a brilliant archetype about our journey as humans. As spiritual beings.

What’s not to love about a breeding cat-fight between two women and their respective hand-maids? The resulting twelve brothers, sons of the iconic Jacob (Ya’acov) / Israel, sell the favored eleventh into slavery. A series of political misadventures and supernatural intrigues compel him along the plot line from disfavored prisoner to Vice Regent of all that is Food for Egypt, Inc, the biggest nation on the block in its day. Worldwide famine hits; band of duplicitous brothers schlep to BFE to find food. Disrespected though once-again-favored bother reveals himself much to their shock. Hugs all around, loads of forgiveness and tadah, the Israelites find themselves safely protected and fed in Egypt. After all, one of their own had effected the largest transfer of wealth into the Kingdom which had ever been known. (Turns out the ability to foretell the future coupled with food supply logistics is a sound combo.) You have just met Joseph / Yosef — the guy with the ‘colorful’ cloak.

The Israelites prosper in Egypt, stout breeders though they are.

Four hundred years later, a new Pharaoh is in power. The Israelites are hearty and prolific. Pharaoh 2.0 fears a coup and institutes a power grab. In a ploy to knock the snot out of their collective will, he subjects the Israelite nation to slavery. Pharaoh 2.0 mandates the murder of all Israelite boys, two and under. From favored status to brutal slavery in four centuries. One baby’s mom is unable to follow the directive: rather than hand her son over to those who will murder him, she seals him in a woven, reed basket and launches him downriver in a current of hope and sacrifice. Better the unknown than certain death.

Sometimes our best option is the least icky of two choices.

The next bit is a twist I particularly love. The baby’s sister follows along the bank as her baby brother floats downriver. The floating package is retrieved by, of all people, Pharaoh 2.0’s daughter. When he is retrieved, the girl hollers across to the Princess that she knows a woman who would be able to suckle the child. Thus it is that the Israelite boy is raised as an Egyptian right under Poopyhead-Pharaoh’s nose by his own mother. (I’ve often wondered how much she revealed to him about who he was.)

By all appearances, he is Egyptian. The boy learns the ways of the kingdom–he is, after all, a son of the Pharaoh. During a critical management training, the now man sees one of the Israelite slaves brutally beaten. Without thought, he lashes out, killing the abuser. Fearing he will be found out for being a sympathizer, he escapes to the desert, marries, and learns the ways of the herds. After 40 years, he is instructed to return and be his people’s redeemer. By a burning bush. He is reluctant. He likes his peaceful life. And that would be Moses / Moshe.

Whatever your view on the Biblical narrative, these characters paths’ provide great insight on for those wanting to travel the road to great impact. Through geo-political circumstances beyond their control, they spent long seasons of waiting in deserts and jail cells; they lived among foreigners instead their own tribes; they were conflicted about their tribal loyalties; yet because they were showed up everyday and did what was in front of them despite the vagaries of life, their meteoricĀ  status-changes gave them power to dynamically benefit the people they cared most about.

Joseph was betrayed by his family and sold as a slave to a band of traveling foreigners. He ended up second in command in the largest nation in the world. Moses was sent downriver by his mom to avoid having to hand him over to the Pharaoh’s assassins. He was raised in the very household of the man who tried to destroy his entire bloodline. He delivered a nation of slaves out from under its oppressors. (Estimates are 600,000 men, plus women and children. No US aid convoys).

You have a call for greatness and impact. It sounds arrogant, but it’s true. It shouldn’t. We are amazing creatures with the capacity for big things. We won’t all follow our real soul paths. It is hard. But inside each of us is a mom who will choose the unknown over our children’s deaths; each of us is a sister who will approach a Princess to see our brother is cared for; each of us does stints in the enemy’s house to get the skills and connections we need; and each of us has seasons of wondering ‘how the hell am I going to get there from here?’

I’m not advocating that we settle for lessons learned only from suffering and trials, isolation and doubts. But I am encouraging all of us to remember that until we are ready to embrace our charges and start walking steadily toward them, our difficulties are what forge our character, get us emotionally vested. For that is the backbone on which our impact will build.

Without our own buy in, we cannot step on the path of greatness and impact. And until we learn to deal with the weirdness that comes our way, we can never become great.


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