In Exodus 3:1-4:8, Moses approaches a bush that is burning but not consumed by fire. He hears the voice of God speak to him, telling Moses that he is standing on holy ground. God tells Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And like so many of the people God called, Moses does not want to do it.
Moses gives God four excuses. They are pretty good ones, too: who am I, who are you, the people will not believe, I cannot speak.
And God answers all of them: I will be with you, I AM WHO I AM, here are signs to perform, take Aaron with you.
So Moses is placated and becomes anxious to answer God’s call, right? Well, not exactly. After God addresses Moses’ excuses, Moses responds by saying, “Send someone else.” Then, God becomes angry with Moses. Which makes sense, doesn’t it? God should be angry with him. After all the excuses and all the answers, Moses just reveals that he doesn’t want to do it anyway. What is wrong with Moses?
Perhaps that is not the question we should be asking, however. Since we are so far separated from Moses we can remove ourselves from the story and look down on him. We can use our hindsight to sit in superiority over Moses. We know how the story ends. So certainly we would have jumped at the chance, right?
Maybe instead of separating ourselves from Moses we should try to relate to him. Think about where Moses was in his life. At this time he is around 80 years old. He lived to about 120, so he has lived 2/3 of his life already. For the sake of comparison, 2/3 of the average lifespan in our culture today would be somewhere in the early 50’s. How many people at 50 are ready to just completely change their occupation, their home, their lifestyle and do something completely radical? Think about what Moses has been called to do: go to Pharaoh, tell him to let all his slave labor walk out of his country, and make sure the Egyptians load you down with gold on your way out of town. Is this a message you would comfortable speaking (even if you didn’t have a speech impediment)?
Also, Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in Pharaoh’s household. He has gone from having everything to having essentially nothing. He has gone from being a prince to being a shepherd. And now he is being called to go back to the palace he left; not for a joyous reunion, but to proclaim an unwanted message.
So maybe, just maybe, Moses’ excuses are valid.
And maybe, just maybe, my excuses and your excuses are valid, too.
Maybe we aren’t good enough, strong enough, rich enough, smart enough, whatever enough to do what God wants us to do with our lives. Maybe there is too much pain in the world for us to make a difference. Maybe there is too much poverty in the world for us to actually change anything. Maybe there is too much anger and bitterness for us to actually inspire any type of change. Maybe we have failed too much in the past or feel no confidence in our present to believe that we can do anything.
And I think we should tell God all of that. Let’s make our excuses.
But then we need to listen to God’s answers. He loves you and has called you for a purpose. It may not be easy, but if He has called you than you have the ability to do it. So after you make your excuses and hear His answers, you have a choice: to be like Moses and say, “Please send somebody else,” or be like Isaiah and say, “Here am I, send me.”
What do you choose?