Feb 12, 2008

Holy Moses! Part 1

This week, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Moses. Not necessarily about him leading his people out of Egypt or orchestrating a mid-ocean, dry land trek, but more about his life before he learned of his calling. He killed someone. He tried to cover it up. He ran for his life. Then, he found himself amongst a herd of sheep, spending hour after dreadfully boring hour leading his furry flock. Do you think he wondered if this was the only leadership he was meant for? Did he think that his past sins had rendered useless any gifts he may have had? It had been decades since he had done anything but tend sheep. I wonder if he had given up on any further aspirations.

When Moses encounters a shrub lit aflame by the very presence of God, his insecurities come center stage. God has chosen him for a mighty big job and He begins to reveal the plan for that job to Moses. And what is Moses’ reaction? “Who am I. . .?” Okay, I’ll give him this one. It sounds like good, God-centered humility. But he follows it up with, “What if they do not believe me?” and “I have never been eloquent. . .I am slow of speech” and the one that finally earns God’s anger, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt the Lord ask me to do something and I’ve answered with excuse after excuse. And like Moses, many of them were rooted in insecurity linked to past experience or sin.

When Moses reacted to his calling with, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” I’m thinking he might have been remembering the last experience he had with the Hebrews. They had confronted him with his sin and he had run. Maybe he thought that he had lost any sort of respect among them. God’s response to his question is curious. God answers Moses’ question with one of His own. “What is that in your hand?” I can picture Moses glancing at his hand and saying flatly, “Uh. A staff.” The rest of the dialogue I will present verbatim so that you can picture it yourself.

“A staff, “ he replied. The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.” Exodus 4: 2-5

Why did Moses have a staff? Because he was a shepherd. And why was he a shepherd? It was the career he had taken up as he was running from a sinful past. Funny, the staff that he acquired as a direct result of his past sin became the object that God used to glorify Himself. How many times have we ruminated on and regretted our pasts as God was saying to us, “Child, you are forgiven of all of that. And I’m going to use it for My glory!” The former events and actions that cause us pain to remember are the very ones that God wants to use to show the world how loving and powerful He is.

He wants to use what we are running from.

Interestingly, Moses’ staff was later referred to as “the staff of God”. It was wholly surrendered to God and used to split the sea, bring water from a rock, and produce a prayer-induced battle victory for Israel. What if Moses would have let his insecurity keep him from doing what God had asked him to do? Amongst a myriad of other possibilities, he would have missed out of being one of the most powerful and effective leaders of the Christian faith. He led a nation out of slavery. An entire nation.

How is God wanting to use your past to affect the world around you? To get you thinking, I’ll give you one example from my life. He is using my past college-aged rebellion to fuel a passion to pour into high school kids. I want to equip these girls for the faith-challenging life they will enter upon stepping foot on a college campus so that they don’t do what I did. What is it for you? What pain will you let God turn into ministry? You may not lead a whole nation out of slavery, but you’ll surely help bring about freedom in your friends, families, and coworkers. And, who knows? Maybe leading a nation is in your future. . .after all, nothing is impossible for God.

I have more thoughts on Moses, but I’ll save them for next week. Can’t wait! Love ya’, girls!

Father, thank you that you work everything for the good of those who love you. Thank you that we don’t have to be bogged down with guilt over our pasts. Help us to accept your forgiveness and be vulnerable enough to let you use our former failures for your glory. We love you. Amen

1 comment:

Candus said...

Whoa...truly inspiring. You are amazing. I remain in awe of your talent.