I wonder how often we doubt we are capable of accomplishing something because we see our own shortcomings. We know our down falls. We have clear knowledge of the times we have failed. Anything that challenges what we know scares us – I know it does me. We think we have a clear grasp on our skill set. We feel good about our training. We may have taken the quizzes to know what gifts we have and we are good sticking to that. What happens when all we think we understand is challenged? What happens when what we think we know about ourselves is pushed to the limit?
There have been many times in my life where I thought I just couldn’t do it. I have wanted to back out of the situation because it was pushing me where I wasn’t sure I could go. I felt this pressure that frightened me – what if I fail? What if I disappoint? What if I have misunderstood? I wondered how in the world I got here and how was I going to get out of it. I wanted to run but my feet felt so grounded in my current place that I couldn’t move.
Today’s scripture is about Moses, not about me or you. I am not saying we are Moses or that our situation in any way reflects Moses’ life. I am not comparing our calling with his. But I think it is helpful to see his vulnerability. It is worth looking at his reaction and his humanity – because that is something we can relate. We can feel his struggle and we can hear his fear. We don’t see the mighty leader, we hear the man that has run for his life and God has found him. We hear the one that God saw where he was and still found he had what he needed to do the work that was left undone. We begin to understand that Moses was not so much different than you and me. That should give us hope as we seek to follow God.
3:1 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
3:3 Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”
3:4 When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
3:5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
3:6 He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
3:7 Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings,
3:8 and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
3:9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.
3:10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
3:12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
3:13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
3:15 God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.
Moses what doing what Moses did every day. He was minding his business being about his father in law’s business. It was there, in the middle of the normalness, that he is called to what sems like the insanity. There are bushes on fire, there are voices, there is a removal of shoes, there is a calling, and there is God – right there. God has experienced the suffering of his people and he will be doing something about it. In a moment, Moses’ life is forever changed. He had fought and killed and done many things wrong. He had run and hid and found some sense of normalcy in his life. And here was God, calling him, to do what seemed to be the impossible. He had an amazing encounter with God but that did not calm his fears. He had a clear directive yet that did not make him want to jump at the chance. He had been given a new start, but he seemed to favor the old one. His response of “Here I am” was not the same response as Isaiah’s. Isaiah was willing to be sent – here I am, send me. Moses was much more hesitant, definitely more reluctant. He was honest with God about his insecurities. He wasn’t ready to sign on the dotted line. I hear…maybe next time God, but thanks for the offer. But that isn’t what happened. That isn’t the end of the story. That isn’t how it went. It was difficult. Moses was pushed way outside of his comfort. I am sure he wanted to go back more times than the book can contain. But that wasn’t all the happened.
He did go. He did follow God. His insecurities did hurt him. His fears did get the best of him sometimes. But you know what else happened? He had some experiences with God that forever changed him. He glowed from the beauty of God’s presence. He was given the opportunity to see God feed his people right in front of him. He watched water flow from rocks and sticks turn into snakes and turn right back in his very hands. He observed a mighty water part as he lifted that same stick. He saw God love with an unbelievably amazing love and he felt his anger from the disobedience. And it all started with God seeing potential that Moses felt sure was not there. Moses experienced God but not without significant challenges and setbacks. Nothing about the journey was easy – but God called him anyway.
Where do you find yourself today? What is your story? I do know it isn’t finished yet. There is more to be written. There are chapters to be put together. Is God calling you? Are you running, still? Have you answered and feel in the middle of a big mess and wonder how in the world you got here? You are not alone. God used Moses in a mighty way. God can use you to love others. He can show you what it means to find the joy of following God. It begins with a simple call to follow. Where he leads, we do not know…it does not matter. What we do is follow. We are just called to follow. Still not ready to sign on the dotted line? That’s okay. God has more unbelievable experiences than you could ever imagine. You just follow.
May God show you beautiful and amazing things as you seek him. And may you be reassured of his presence – even when you don’t know what to do or how you will make it. May you be strengthened in the journey of love. And may you see his fire like never before. May you be changed.