Moses. We remember him as the great man who led his people out of slavery in Egypt. Multiple movies have been made about him. He saw tremendous miracles. He was a miracle.
But what has really stood out to me this year, as I’ve studied the book of Exodus, is that Moses protested against the calling God gave him. God showed up and spoke to Moses in an audible voice through a burning bush that wasn’t consumed (that certainly was attention-getting). Audibly! Moses could actually hear God’s voice. Still. Moses was so afraid that he protested and told God that he had the wrong guy.
Not only did Moses protest against this calling, but he did it on FIVE separate occasions.
I think back to when I was much younger and I felt in my spirit (no audible voices here) that God wanted me to audition for a musical at my college. It seems like such an insignificant thing now, but at the time it was monumental. Why would GOD ask me to audition for a musical? Doesn't He have better things to do? But I'd drawn inward and allowed depression and anxiety to consume me. I had no self-worth. I'd turned to the Lord in a time of desperation and He comforted me, challenging me to audition. I’d never had the courage to audition for high school musicals, choosing to run the spotlight and chafing as others got the opportunity to perform on stage.
“God, I’m not good enough. There’s no way I’ll get a part.”
The sense that I should try anyway pressed in on me so strongly that I finally decided to stand up to my fear and try it. Within minutes of singing half of one song for the director, he thanked me and sent me home. I was humiliated, stumbling back to my car in tears. I didn’t even check the audition results when they were posted.
A friend ran up to me with a huge grin and congratulated me. I’d gotten a principal role. Dumbfounded, I told her what happened. She laughed and said, “I heard your audition. They didn’t need to hear any more. They knew they wanted you.”
It was one of the first times I’d ever responded to that feeling inside that felt like the voice of God. And then I had a Moses moment, like when Pharaoh's magicians mimicked the miracles God had shown Moses and Pharaoh made the Hebrew’s work load so much harder. Did he feel humiliated and devastated too? But that experience changed everything for me. I had something to feel good about, and that spurred me on to try other new things. In the years that followed, there were many times that I felt God urging me to do something that called me far from my comfort zone. Sometimes with hesitation and sometimes without, I learned to obey.
Then, as I sought God earnestly about my future, He crashed into my narrow mindedness and urged me to go to seminary. I protested for three years. Three full years. I negotiated and tried to wiggle out of it. I waited until I was completely miserable before I finally went. In case you’re wondering, I 100% don’t recommend that. The misery was truly complete.
So when I read that Moses protested five times, begging God to find someone else, I understand. How well I remember all those protests I made: Please, God, didn’t I misunderstand? Why would you call me so far out of my comfort zone? Don’t You know that seminary is for men? Don’t You remember how expensive graduate school is? I don’t know anyone there. What about work? How will I pay my bills?
But did you know that God builds in time for our protests? God led the Hebrews out of Egypt on "the last day of the 430th year" (Exodus 12:41). Did you know that our hesitancy and discomfort don’t take Him by surprise one bit? That God – rich in mercy, slow to anger, great in kindness – allows us time to get over our fear and self-loathing and pride. Just as God did with Moses and the burning bush, He begins the conversation exactly when it needs to begin so that we have time to get brave enough to listen and obey.
These days, things for me have flipped a little. God has called me to ministry, but instead of protesting, I’m eager to run with it. I chafe as I wait for opportunities that seem to come so slowly, with untold hours of preparation and hard work. I do what I can with what I’ve been given and I remind myself that God’s timing is perfect. The calling is His, after all, and if He called me, then it’s His job to bring it to pass. There’s not much I can do to rush it or stop it. Unless I want to be miserable, of course. Which I don’t. When God calls a person to something and they continue to protest, rather than obey, it’s a misery beyond anything I could ever tolerate again.
Might as well just say, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
I can almost promise you that following God's calling on your life will bring challenges and even heartache. If we consider the suffering of Jesus’ disciples in the Bible, what makes us think that following God's call will make us nothing more than happy and fulfilled? The world hates the message of salvation and the God we serve, so we can expect difficulties. God will be with us in those trials though. That's an entirely different feeling than the misery of rebellion or fear or pride. That is the peace that passes all understanding.
Moses wasn’t about to be let off the hook. God wasn't one bit surprised by his hesitation. Just like He isn’t surprised by ours. And hey, even if we don’t have a burning bush experience and we get it wrong, God knows our hearts. If we’re trying to be obedient, He will cushion the fall and gently teach us how to hear His voice and not our own selfish desires. He’s good like that. We can trust Him.
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