The stories of Moses’ life are fascinating... they’re the foundation of many a Sunday School lesson, for sure!
Maybe you remember from Sunday School... the Ten Commandments... the Golden Calf... the Parting of the Red Sea...?
Well, before any of that... the Pharaoh issued an order of infanticide in an attempt to weaken the Hebrew people who were becoming “too numerous” for the Egyptians to control.
But Moses’ mother, hid him for three months (as long as she could)... before placing him in a basket (coated with tar & pitch) and floating him down the Nile River, in an attempt to save his life. As Providence would have it... the basket containing baby Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter.
In short... God intervened... making a way for Moses’ mother to become his “nanny” - therefore... even though Moses was a Hebrew, he was raised in Egypt’s royal family as the grandson of the Pharaoh. (Are you with me? Hang in there... I’m actually going somewhere with all this!)
Later-on, as an adult... Moses’ confronted injustice, killing an Egyptian he saw beating a Hebrew slave. But there was a problem: Moses’ defense of the Hebrew came to the attention of the Pharaoh... so Moses fled for his life... eventually becoming a shepherd in Midian, a region east of Egypt on the other side of the Sinai Peninsula.
We don’t know exactly how long Moses lived at Midian, but we do know that he was there long enough to get married, and have a son.
And we also know, that during that time, two very important things happened. The king (the Pharaoh) in Egypt died, AND the Lord heard the cry of his oppressed people, remembering his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exod. 2:23-25). It’s important to understand, that “God remembering” does not mean that God had forgotten about his people. It’s a way of saying that God was about to act on their behalf. He was about to do something about their plight and condition. And in order to act... God called Moses.
Of course, when it comes to “callings” in the Bible, Moses’ call was clear. God called Moses to go... to return to Egypt in order to free the Hebrew slaves. It was something that had been on Moses’ heart for years... he had witnessed the oppression of his people... and he’d even acted to stop it at one point.
But Moses’ wasn’t quite convinced. He wasn’t completely sold on the idea of God calling him.
We see a pattern developing as a result: Call... resistance... acceptance...
First, God called to Moses; grabbing his attention with a burning bush! (Exod. 3:2-5)
Of course, a bush catching fire was probably nothing new... in the semi-arid area of Median, Moses had certainly seen bush fires before! But this time was different. The bush was burning, but wasn’t being consumed... which intrigued Moses. God had captured Moses’ attention.
Then Moses heard his name called, from within the burning bush... and initially he responded, “Here I am” (Exod. 3:4). This is a statement of availability, not location.
But it didn’t take long, for the excuses to begin!
Although he had just seen & heard a powerful calling from God... Moses responded to God’s call with one excuse after another:
“Who am I that I should go before the Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” I’m a nobody!
“What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?” I’m insecure.
After all, I can’t speak in front of people... “I’ve never been eloquent... I’m slow of speech and tongue.” I doubt my own abilities.
Then, finally, Moses revealed the truth of the matter: the real reason behind all of his excuses... by basically saying, “Lord, I just don’t want to go...” “Pardon your servant... please send someone else!”
“Someone Else” is the most popular person in the church, even today! How many times have you and I witnessed something... seen something... learned of something... that needed doing... and we felt under qualified... not smart enough... not talented enough... not secure enough? So... we said let “Someone Else” do it?
And as a result “Noone Else” did it...
We’re told after his litany of excuses, that the Lord’s anger burned against Moses. Yet in his faithfulness, God answered every excuse, and equipped Moses to “live into his calling.” And Moses would go on, to do just that! He would go back to Egypt, and accomplish what God called him to do.
Call... resistance... acceptance...
This same basic pattern can be seen in the calling of others throughout the Bible. Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and some of Jesus’ disciples. It’s not a rigid formula, for many other call narratives in Scripture follow a different pattern. But it does suggest that God’s call often comes via an extended series of encounters that guide a person in God’s way over time.
It all raises the question, for us: What’s God calling us to do? Who is God calling us to be?
Of course, we’ve answered a major part of that calling already... if we’ve accepted the Lordship of Christ over our lives, we’re well on our way to honoring God’s call on our lives. But our calling doesn’t stop with our acceptance of Christ.
Whatever God is asking us to do, wherever he is calling us to go: what would our lives look like if we started each day with this thought:
“God, as YOU Lead, I WILL follow!”
It’s so simple, yet life altering. We limit what we think God can do because we focus on our own weaknesses, inadequacies, or limitations. Yet, “is anything too hard for God?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
God’s Word reminds us, “For nothing [is] impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) and, “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who gives us strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Listen... what if I told you that answering God’s calling has nothing to do with me (and my limitations)... and everything to do with Obedience?
It’s not about who we are; it’s about who HE is. Every time in my life God has asked me to step out in faith—to do something for His kingdom—He has come through.
Every. Single. Time.
Henri Nouwen understood the power of God’s calling, if anyone ever has! And he also understood our resistance to it. He saw us as people of “clenched fists” - holding on so tightly to what we can see, that it hinders our ability to do God’s will, and to actually be the people God has called us to be as followers of Christ.
He prayed that he (and we) would lose our fear of opening our “clenched fists” - that we would open our hands to receive what God offers us... in order to receive God’s blessings (God’s giftings and graces) and to use those blessings in service to Christ.
I want you to do something with me... Right now, wherever you are... at home, in your living room... in our office... at your kitchen table... sitting in a pew here in the sanctuary... join me in making two fists (both hands)... and now, bow your head with me... and open your “clenched fists” - palms open before God.
Let’s ask Christ, together... in a spirit of prayer, and humility, to help us release all of our excuses as to why we can’t answer God’s calling on our lives... and ask Jesus to fill us with the power of God’s Spirit... Ask God to refine our calling, to forgive our resistance and excuses, and encourage & empower us as we move forward together, into a world that desperately needs each of us, to be the people Christ has called us to be.
Let’s commit ourselves anew... to leave the “what-ifs” and reservations behind. Let’s stop trying to figure how everything is going to work... and just let God be God in our lives.
If you and I will do that... then “Someone Else” becomes me.