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Unexpected Outcomes

What I'm Reading Today: Exodus 1-2

In every relationship or association, there is a turning point – a moment when things could either get significantly better or significantly worse. What ultimately matters in those moments is how the individuals involved handle that turning point.

I often think back to one such moment that occurred early in my ministry. The community I was serving had just finished its annual stewardship campaign and was in the process of drafting the budget for the following year. There were two competing visions that were raised up for how that draft should look. One vision was that we should adopt a balanced budget; the other vision was that we should adopt a deficit budget. The proponents of each vision took rather rigid positions that threatened to divide the community.

The community had a history of not dealing well with conflict. Some folks in the community either left if they didn't get their way while others tried to avoid conflict at all costs. So as the conflict over the budget continued to simmer, lots of folks got anxious – not knowing if the community was ready to take on such a dicey topic. There were some who worried the conflict would split the community and cause the progress it had experienced to disappear.

Ironically, just the opposite happened. By having the conflict take place out in the open and empowering everyone in the community to participate in the conversation (not just the proponents of each position) the dynamic of the community began to shift. Things began to get better – significantly better! – after that conflict: all because they had the courage to deal with controversy in healthy ways. Talk about an unexpected outcome!

In today's passage, we heard the story of another unexpected outcome. After there was a transition in Egypt's power structure, we are told that the new leaders who came in didn't have the same ties to the Israelites as did the former leaders. In addition, they were threatened by the number of Israelites in their presence. The new leaders responded by cranking down on the Israelites and working them harder than ever in an attempt to eradicate them.

So what happened?

We are told: "But the harder the Egyptians worked them the more children the Israelites had – children everywhere!"

That twist in the story is just one more reminder that we human beings shouldn't be too quick to write the ends of our stories – for often the outcome is often much different than we might anticipate.

Perhaps there is a storyline going on in your life that you are rushing to finish. Maybe it involves a difficulty that you are facing that you are convinced will bring you (or your community) down. If that's the case, take a moment and remember the unexpected outcome that happened to the Israelites. Then open yourself to the possibility that there might be a wonderfully unexpected outcome to your story as well.

Til next time …


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