Am I an Israelite???? Part 2

Just a few musings I thought to get off my chest…

I have not yet heard anything from any of those jobs I interviewed for, and I am not too surprised, knowing that for each position employers are probably receiving more than 100 resumes/applications. It is ridiculous how hard it is to find a job in Michigan. I have often marveled at how the friends and classmates of mine who have fled this state are doing much better than those of us who stayed here, in general. It is maddening. Then, I happened upon this article today:

The link will lead you to an article entitled “Michigan ‘brain drain’ bill would give tax credits to college graduates who stay in state, pay loans”.

Leaders in Michigan have realized that the state is bleeding–no, hemorrhaging–college graduates. Here is a quote directly from the article, which was written by a Mr. Jonathan Oosting:

“The state credit would be limited to half of an individual’s yearly payments on state or federal loans and could not exceed 20 percent of the average yearly tuition for Michigan universities, which Schor said could equate to $1,600 or more a year.

Michigan students who graduated from a four-year college or university in 2011 left school with an average debt of $27,451, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success, with nearly two out of three finishing in the red. A 2008 survey found that roughly half of Michigan graduates left the state within a year.”

I was dumbfounded when I read the article, because the initiative here misses the mark. So let’s get to some specifics.

Despite my education, in most situations I am considered no more than an entry-level candidate in healthcare jobs due to my lack of experience. That is not a problem–I absolutely agree that I am not fit for more than an entry-level role until I gain some experience. The problem is how much those jobs pay. Most of the jobs I have been applying to pay around $10-$12 an hour.

Using both of those numbers, let’s see how this plays out.

I can work forty hours a week and, making $10, bring home $400 before taxes, or making $12, $480. Uncle Sam takes a mean cut out of that, but let’s disregard that for a second. I can make between $1600 and $1920 a month.

The public transportation in a lot of areas in Southeastern Michigan in particular is virtually nonexistent, so I have to have a car. Luckily I paid my car off, but there is still that pesky matter of insurance. -$172.

Gas is absolutely ridiculous. I remember when I graduated high school it was .99 cents. That was NOT that long ago. It is unexplainable how my entire life gas never rose an entire quarter and then just jumped up by dollars. Just like in every other family, gas eats up a significant portion of my income, as I spend time commuting from work to home, picking up my kids and dropping them off, driving to various functions, etc. I’ll low-ball it at -$100.

I have to have somewhere to live, right? Rent is ridiculous in most places here. My husband and I could easily afford a home considering how much we have wasted in rent, yet we cannot qualify for a loan. The average rent in my area is reportedly $810 for a two-bedroom home. We’ll go with that. -$810.

How about feeding a family of four? Do you like eating healthy stuff? -$300.

I have considered the bare necessities here and already we have accumulated expenditures of almost $1400, leaving us with little money to save for the down payment for the house, or with much money to do anything else. God forbid there is an emergency.

So for my friends and classmates who said to heck with living paycheck to paycheck, I sadly say I envy you.

My husband and I could probably pack up and leave, but we have a very good reason for staying. Particularly on this day, which would have been the 94th birthday of my paternal grandmother Aggie Smith, who died only last year on July 26, I spent some time reflecting on the magic that was my family. I would not trade a single one of them and my grandmothers in particular for anything. I want my children to have that same kind of experience.

As for those who are studying the “brain drain” it is appalling that the best they could come up with was tax credits. Umm, how about jobs that pay liveable wages, and affordable housing? I get tired of reading Internet boards where kids my age are called “lazy” or “whiners”. Sure I know a few who fit into those categories, but the vast majority are high-achievers who want to take care of their families on their own with no assistance from the government. Just give them–give US–the opportunity!

I could go on, but Exodus awaits, and I am pleased to have a bit of time to devote to it.

Last time, Moses and Aaron had met with the Israelite leaders and told them of the good things to come. Now it is time for Moses and Aaron to approach Pharaoh (dum, da-dum dum).  Moses and Aaron request that they be allowed to hold a festival to their God in the wilderness (this is what God told them to say). As was to be expected, Pharaoh is not interested in hearing any parts of this. He says, and I paraphrase, “who is this God that you speak of, and what makes you think I am going to listen to him? I am PHARAOH!” I’ll bet he had his chest puffed out when he said it, too.

Pharaoh denies their request.

Moses and Aaron persist, and Pharaoh grows impatient with them and asks them why they are distracting the people from what it is they are really supposed to be doing–working. Pharaoh makes conditions even harder for the Israelites–previously they were being supplied with straw to make bricks. Now, Pharaoh commands that the Israelites be forced to get their own straw. In Pharaoh’s opinion, the request for the three-day festival in the wilderness was not to worship God, but instead an opportunity for a vacation of sorts. He thinks the Israelites are just lazy. I wonder how many bricks he built??

Anyway, the Hebrews are still expected to meet the same quotas, and their slave drivers and foremen (interesting that some of their slave drivers are fellow Israelites, isn’t that always the case) are charged with keeping them on task despite this setback. Israelite foremen are whipped by the Egyptian slave drivers when the slaves do not produce the desired outcomes. The foremen plead to Pharaoh for mercy, but he has none for them. He again calls the Israelites lazy, and tells them to get back to work. On their way out the foremen confront Moses and Aaron, blaming them for bringing the wrath of Pharaoh upon them. In response, Moses goes to God. I may be wrong, but his tone in the following Scriptures seem to be a bit accusatory (Exo. 5:22-23):

“Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

I can’t say I blame old Moses for this. He was in a very tight spot, and I can only imagine his human anxiety and frustration coming out in such a manner. Mine has. (I have asked for forgiveness for it, mind you). Like when it comes to my son–he has asthma and that gets extremely frustrating at times. There are times when we would like to go outside as a family and do things, and he’ll end up coughing all night. My blood pressure goes up each time he coughs, and all I can do is groan when he has a coughing fit in the middle of the night that awakens me from the four hours of sleep or so that I am lucky enough to get. I must admit, sometimes it is hard to look past my fatigue and frustration, and I have gotten angry. I have been praying for help with my son’s asthma for years now, and it is getting better, as I mentioned in a previous post. However, with the seasons here acting up so much–it can be 60 degrees one day and 30 the next–my son is doing a lot of coughing again. I have grown angry because I wondered why my prayer for it to be removed completely has not been answered. Perhaps it’s not God’s will to have my son be asthma-free. Perhaps there is a reason why God wants him to have it. And if that’s the case, I need to get better at dealing with that. But I have my failures there.

Moving on…

God promises Moses that he will deliver his people. I like this a lot (Exo. 6:6-9):

“I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’”

Couldn’t Jesus very well say the same thing to us right now as a message of encouragement? This world sucks. Look at how much evil goes on every single day. Jesus’ version would be similar: “I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression (aren’t we as Christians being oppressed by this world? Doesn’t the world treat “Jesus” like a four-lettered word?) and will rescue you from your slavery (to sin). I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment (of course we know Jesus is our Redeemer… and we shall see great acts when He returns).

He has already claimed us as His people, and He is our God. When the time is come, He will bring us into the place He has prepared for us, far removed from this wicked world. Can you even imagine a place with no sin? No evil? I can’t even fathom it. But that is what we get to look forward to if we believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior who died for us, was buried, and rose again!

Moses repeats this inspirational message to his people, but they are mad and refuse to listen. The Bible says that “they had become discouraged by their brutality”. Now, on one hand, I can understand how their physical weakness translated into mental fatigue. So I am not completely appalled by the Israelites yet.

God instructs Moses to go back to Pharaoh, and he protests, saying that the people will not listen to him. His reasoning? That he is a clumsy speaker. At this point, I think Moses was simply looking for a way out of the task he had been given. But maybe that really was a concern of his again. Of course, the Bible only records what Moses says–we do not know how he said it, but it should not have mattered. God gave him the words to speak, and that should have been sufficient.

The same goes for us as witnesses. If we pray before we go to witness, God will put the words in our mouth, and will even guide us into the right scenario for witnessing. Of course we will not always win that person to Christ, but it is always worth a shot. At no time should we let our perceived shortcomings prevent us from witnessing or carrying out whatever task God has laid upon us to do. Moses had to get better at relying on God.

Chapter 6 of Exodus ends with a seemingly random passage exploring the lineage of Aaron and Moses. Although it seems out of place, of course we understand that these “random” lineages are in the Bible to show how we ended up with our Jesus.

UH-OH, baby is awake. Back soon.

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