Go. "But...but..." GO!
Week 4, Day 5
Exodus 4. 10-17
10 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ 11 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.’ 13 But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send someone else.’ 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, ‘What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. 16 He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17 Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.’
Day 1: Our God hears us, remembers promises, looks on us with kindness, notices our suffering.
Day 3: Our God acts, calling on some of God’s people to aid others of God’s people. We are invited and empowered to service by the God who, with our help, shows Divine power through acts of Divine compassion.
Day 5: But that isn’t enough for Moses. Whatever confidence he had in the power of this God was undermined by his utter lack of confidence in himself. “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now…O my Lord, please send someone else”.
God’s response is telling. Moses isn’t promised a facile tongue or fluent, articulate speech or great oratorical skills. He is promised the presence of God. “‘Who gives speech to mortals? …I will teach you what you are to speak.” Moses learns what St Paul would learn all over again hundreds of years later. That God’s grace is sufficient for whatever task God calls us to. Divine strength is made perfect—made visible and evident and effective not in spite of our weakness but in our weakness (II Corinthians 12.7-10). Because God will be with Moses, even Pharaoh—the most fearsome power in the known world, will be no match for this tongue-tied Hebrew shepherd who is speaking God’s word.
Moses wasn’t wrong in his estimation of his own abilities. He was wrong in believing his weakness made a whit of difference to God. The problem wasn’t his low opinion of himself. The problem was his low opinion of his God.
God doesn’t call us because we are powerful. God doesn’t call us to be powerful. God calls us to serve—to speak God’s word of compassion and justice into and against a world ruled by cruelty and injustice. We aren’t called to success or accomplishment or public acclaim. We are called to speak, and to live out—to the best of God’s ability at work in us, God’s word of kindness, fairness, generosity and love.
“Go”, God invites, “and I will be with you.”
Prayer: Patient God, keep us from thinking so much, or so little, of ourselves that we fail to hear or heed your call. Awaken in us each day the sense of your purpose for us and your promise to be with us. Amen.