Text: Exodus 17:8-16, Exodus 18:1-27, Proverbs 19:20
Life as a young mom had left me exhausted and exasperated. My hair was forever in a ponytail, and I rarely snagged a shower. Variations of snot, food, and crusted drool had taken up residence on the sleeves and shoulders of my shirts. The hope of ever again going to the bathroom in peace—alone and with the door closed—had become a distant memory.
I was in the throes of a whole new world, just trying to keep the littles alive and fed. And I was struggling to connect with God. The loss of that connection gnawed away at me, and left me with a deep sense of guilt. The days of long, uninterrupted Bible study and prayer now seemed long gone, and I missed them.
My friend Prisca has three grown sons, and her youngest was once part of our on-campus college ministry. He was mentored by my husband throughout his college years, and so we got to know him well, witnessing firsthand how he lived out his faith—grounded, humble, secure, and wildly generous.
I grew to admire and appreciate the role his parents played in raising him, and in particular his mom. I can clearly remember one of our first meals together in their home. Prisca listened with warmth and understanding as my tears rolled down and words tumbled out. I shared both the struggles and joys of new motherhood, and confessed my shame in not feeling connected to God during such a challenging season of life.
Jethro knew Moses was in a difficult season. He knew well the call God had on Moses’ life and how his son-in-law’s heart longed to serve God and minister to His people. But he could also see the unsustainability of how Moses was going about his life. He took the time to listen to Moses and observe his situation, before offering wise counsel (Exodus 18:13-16).
“‘What you’re doing is not good,’ Moses’ father-in-law said to him. ‘You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.’”
I fully expected Prisca, an amazingly godly woman, to admonish me about the importance of God’s Word and how I needed to rise earlier and work harder to protect my time with God. But instead, Prisca touched my arm and with a joyful laugh, shared, “You know, these are busy, challenging years you’re in, but it won’t always be like this. I remember going grocery shopping by myself once, when I was where you are. I just stopped and stared at the oranges for a long, long time…”
Prisca’s words were like a sweet balm seeping into the deeper parts of my soul, bringing relief and, honestly, surprise. Her words of grace met my depleted body and soul exactly where I needed them. They encouraged me to stop striving and rest in order to keep from burning out. To stop trying to do it all on my own. She assured me that in my surrender, God would show me new ways of connecting with Him.
We all need a Jethro in our lives. We need someone who will patiently build our trust by observing and listening without judgment. We need people to seek out our hearts, instead of quickly offering unsolicited advice. And should we be blessed with such a friend, may we learn from their wisdom and heed their advice.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”