Stop for a minute and think about Moses. What do you know about him? The plagues, leading the people through the desert to the Promised Land, parting the sea, the Ten Commandments, and of course – all those laws! But before the Sunday School Moses, the popular Moses, there was an entirely different man.
I love the story of the early Moses. I see so much of myself in him. True, I have never killed a man (Exodus 2:12), but I have done more than my share of unthinking, foolish actions. And like Moses, my desire is to turn and flee. Moses fled to Midian, far away from his home in Egypt, where he joined a group of shepherds. He made himself comfortable. He took a wife, and had some kids, and (at least in my imagination) set his mind to forgetting as much about Egypt as humanly possible.
But God had other plans for Moses. He always has. Remember the basket in the water? From the very beginning, God’s hand ensured that Moses even made it to that fateful day out in the desert. The scene takes place in front of a miraculous sign: a burning bush. On one side, we see a normal, comfortable, graying and balding middle aged man. On the other, the Master and Creator of the Universe:
There an angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:2-4
The following conversation stirs my heart. Our God knows the pain His loved ones have suffered at the hands of their Egyptian masters. He wants to heal them. He cares. He has a plan! But… oh Moses! When faced with his life’s mission, he refuses. Not just once, but fully five times does he present excuse and fears as to why he can not fulfill the role that the Lord has shaped for him.
The first time I read this – REALLY read it – my heart broke. For Moses, yes, but even more so for myself. I have heard each of his five refusals fly from my mouth on many occasions. When presented with an opportunity to serve the Lord and his people, I like Moses hesitate. See, although I am not a balding middle age man several centuries before Christ, I, too, am comfortable. I let my comfort and fears lead me to reject God’s will. Moses’ five objections are familiar, and represent the broad categories of excuses that we each fall into. They are:
1. Who am I?
2. Who are you, God?
3. What if they think I am crazy?
4. I do not have the skills.
5. Please! Send someone else!
I find myself returning to this passage repeatedly. Studying the conversation between Moses and God has helped me to understand myself better. More than that, seeing how God responds to each of Moses’ objections shines a light on His holy character. And since we have been promised that, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6), I can safely believe that God’s responses to my objections will be similar to those of Moses. This passage can help us to understand and overcome our excuses. Then, we can be free to pursue the challenges the Lord has planned for us.
The first section, "Who am I?" is almost finished. I hope to post that in a day or two, followed by each of the other four excuses. I pray that this study will help you at least a fraction of as much as it has helped me!