So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.” “Go in peace,” Jethro replied. Before Moses left Midian, the Lord said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.” So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.—Exodus 4:18-20, NLT
People migrate for many reasons, but in the case of Moses, his motivation was the Call of God. His obedience to the divine mission signified a great sacrifice for his wife Zipporah, who had to leave her kin and culture in Midian to migrate twice—first to Egypt and then to Canaan. The road would be long and hard. She would have to learn a new language and suffer racial prejudice, since as a Cushite she had black skin (Numbers 12:1). For her whole life she had lived as a member of a racial minority, and perhaps for that reason and others, the Bible registers no objection on her part to the move to Egypt with her husband.
Moses did something very wise before he left: he asked his father-in-law Jethro to bless his travel. He did not tell him everthing the Lord had said, but only expressed his desire to visit his relatives. He
probably didn’t even believe completely in the liberating mission God had commissioned him with. But Moses committed himself to taking the first steps toward a new future and asked for the blessing of his family. His pious father-in-law (Exodus 3:1) said goodbye to him in peace, and the rest of the story tells us about the warm relationships that the two succeded in maintaining. (Exodus 18:5).
The physical separation of families has always figured among the most difficult aspects of migration, but family relationships do not have to be broken because of migration. Wise immigrants try to follow the example of Moses, asking for counsel, blessing, and peace from their families before setting off on a new path. Receiving the family blessing makes it easier to maintain contact with the family from afar.
Perhaps you will not have to travel with your family seated on a burro, but it is worthwhile to take along a souvenir of the promises of God, like Moses did in carrying “the staff of God.”
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.