Unless you’re talking about the Sierras, being on the backside of something is usually not a good place to be. It typically means you’re in the middle of nowhere—remote, isolated, and cut-off from the rest of the world. That’s how some of us like it in the Owens Valley, but for the most part, people usually want to get off of the backside of whatever it is they’re on as soon as possible.

We all know the story of Moses—the Hebrew baby hidden in a basket, then raised in the palaces of Egypt. His was an incredible, miracle-filled beginning, but later, because of his outrage over what was happening to his own people, Moses suddenly found himself a fugitive. He thought he had the necessary skills and authority to take control, but he didn’t. Not with the Egyptian beating the Hebrew or even with the two Hebrews arguing with each other. His resulting actions are what landed him his first sheepherding job. Because God uses what happens in our lives to teach us lessons we need to learn, God may have used this forced “time out” on the backside of the desert to remind Moses that however good his intentions were, he wasn’t the one in charge.

After forty years, God suddenly stepped back into Moses’ life—like burning bush suddenly—and told him to return to Egypt. God will deliver His people and this time God will be in charge. What does Moses do? He argues with God and his stubborn responses are there for us to ponder. There is a lot of “not me”, “I can’t” and “send someone else” in this part of the story, but we finally find Moses back in Egypt. I wonder if he saw the irony in what was happening and was aware of all of the “behind-the-scenes” orchestrating that had been done on his behalf: being protected from certain death when Pharaoh’s daughter plucked him from the Nile, his earlier life in the palace, and even his training in the desert.

Are we always aware of what God has done in our lives to bring us to where we are today? It would be a good exercise to make a list of how God has guided us and protected and provided for us. He has a master plan for each of us and our lives are not made up of random acts that simply collide around us to shape us into who we are. While written primarily to the Hebrew people but applicable to believers today, Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this when it states “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord … to give you a future and a hope.” Verses 12-13 go on to remind the reader that God hears us when we pray to Him and we will find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts.

God used Moses to lead the great exodus from Egypt and once again he found himself on the backside of the desert. This time he’s in charge of over a million people—a daunting task by anyone’s estimation. Do you find yourself on the backside of life, isolated and cut-off? Are you facing things out of your control and impossible handle? Don’t despair. Allow God to prepare you and then use you to accomplish His purposes. As with Moses, nothing is wasted with God. Moses spent 40 years on the back side of the desert—and then another 40 years. And in the process he met with God on the mountain.