Yeah, Moses and I go way back. I love this story from start to finish, but today I want to write about just the beginning of Moses’ life and mission. I relate to this Old Testament Bible character more than any other, and I continue to learn from the raw and real substance that made up his humanity.
We are in Exodus…starting at chapter 2. We see the intimate connection that God has with his children, the people of Israel, who have been crying out for deliverance from the slave drivers of Egypt. Exodus 2:23-25 tells us that God heard them, saw them, remembered His covenant to them, and was concerned about them. In Exodus 3:8, we see God lay out His plan for their rescue as He reveals Himself to Moses through a burning bush. God says, “Go and tell the Pharoah that the I AM has sent you. Tell him that he must release My people, and if he says no, it’s gonna get ugly.” (Something like that, right?) Moses has some questions, some issues…to the extent that in chapter 4, he pleads with God to just send someone else.
Real quickly, let me squeeze these two little goodies in here as well. He tells Moses to take off his shoes because he is standing on holy ground. Oh the reality of His nearness! What do we need to remove from our lives in order to FULLY soak in His presence? How easy He is to ignore, how easy it is to be shielded from the reality of His nearness, in this world, in our busy lives, in our compromised lives. And the second sweet word of His desire for intimacy is simply this: “Moses, I will be with you.”
Now, Moses had been a man of strong and intense passion, specifically passion for justice. He had killed a man who was mistreating one of his fellow Israelites many years before; in fact, that was the reason he fled out to the desert and relocated completely. Also, he had narrowly escaped one of the most horrific acts of injustice in history when he was a baby–the Pharoah had declared all male babies be killed upon their arrival into the world–but Moses had been spared. He had a fiery heart for justice…and he had used it unwisely. Every gift the Holy Spirit gives us, every innate passion, can be turned around for evil, can be mishandled. I have a fiery heart for justice, too. I get in my mind what must be done for the least of these, and I want everyone everywhere to stop their everyday lives and minister to others in the way that makes sense to me! But I have learned over the past 8 years that this is taking a God-given passion and turning it into a man-directed ministry. I haven’t killed anybody but I’ve probably killed some relationships! Whether it’s about finances, living sacrificially, fasting, raising awareness, the poor, slavery, adopting, child sponsorship, missions, prayer, whatever, there is a judgmental side of my heart for justice that has to be starved into extinction. It’s a fine line between living my own life according to my convictions and also being a voice for the Lord in an appropriate way.
Not only was dear Moses just a little out of control like me sometimes, with a heart for equality and human rights, when the time came for him to embark upon the mission of a lifetime, he was scared to death. It’s like watching a lion all of sudden stop roaring and hide behind a rock. It’s like watching a guy step off of his soapbox and shiver at the idea of actually doing what he’s talking about. And I’ve been there. It’s easy to lay in bed at night and think of what I’ll say and do…but the next day when the lights are on we realize how silly we are, how difficult that idea would be to pull off. We remember times we were embarrassed or times things didn’t work out well. Can I really say that? Can I really sing that? Can I really do that? What if, what if, what if?
Getting over ourselves. Will we do it? Will we abandon our lives and our pride in order to be used by the Lord in precisely the way He chooses? That may mean you lay aside your career to stay home with your kids, or it may mean you go let your light shine in a dark world when you’d rather be home with your kids! It may mean you go to India and live among the poor and it may mean you stay here in relative comfort, learning to pray without ceasing. I believe that most of our callings will have these two things in common though: One, we will be more obscure, more unnoticed, than we planned. And two, we will need a daily–constant–infusion of the presence of God, “shoes” off, in order to carry it out.