Let My Pharaoh Go!

It was the final night of Vacation Bible School at Sweet Fellowship Baptist Church. Parents filled the sanctuary, eager to hear the songs and stories that their children had learned during the week. Four lively 5-year-old boys jumped up to offer their dramatic presentation of Moses and the Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt. Wielding their plastic swords, the boys especially liked playing the mean Pharaoh and his army who would not let the people go.

With a little prompting, Moses stood with his shepherd staff before Pharaoh and pleaded, "Pharaoh, the people are tired of being beat up. Let the people go." With the sword swirling, Pharaoh yelled, "Never!" Young Moses left the room, returning in a few moments to plead again. I whispered into Pharaoh's little ear: "Say ‘Never, never, never!'"

But Pharaoh had other ideas. He jumped down from his throne and said, "I'm tired of being mean. I don't want to be mean anymore. All of you can go, just go!" Then he threw his sword on the floor, walked over to Moses, and draped his arm around his shoulder and said, "Come on, let's go play."

I must admit that this drastic revision of the biblical story appeals to my longings for peace and reconciliation. I would like all the conflicts with the terrorizing pharaohs within me and around me to end in "Let's go play." Imagine meanness halting in the world due to fatigue. And yet it is the unaltered biblical story in all its messiness that speaks most honestly to my spiritual journey.

MANY OF THE CONFLICTS in my life did not end in a peace treaty. Some of my conflicts have even been exacerbated by efforts to reach resolution.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2001
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