When Moses came to the end of his life, he blessed each of the tribes of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. The descendants of Joseph he blessed with the Favor of Him Who dwells in the burning bush, and so far we've learned that this Favor finds us right where we are, draws near to us, takes us as we are, and introduces Himself to us in a new and ancient way. In this final installment of the series "Through the Eyes of an Old Flame", we'll embark on a journey only the Bush-Dwelling Fire could have foreseen and a desert-dwelling shepherd struggled to believe. (You can read the first 4 posts on this passage below.)
When my younger brother was in 6th grade, he got into an altercation at school. I don't remember what it was about, but I remember he came home a little bruised and extremely nervous to have to tell Dad about it. Not wanting to prolong the angst, Justin confessed to Dad that he'd been in a fight nearly the very minute Dad walked in the door. My Dad's typically unpredictable response was simply to ask, "Did you win?" Thankfully, he did or apparently he would have been in real trouble at home. To Dad it was more important that you knew your limitations and strengths before fighting than that you were in a physical altercation. There's some wisdom in that. Fight the fights you can win, I guess
Honestly, there are very few losing battles I care to engage in on the outset, and yet I get baited into it nearly every time. Fights on social media about politics or religion, fights with a toddler about "why", fights over hymns or modern music (yes, that's a real thing and it's weird), fights that no one wins and everyone loses. I'll be honest, sometimes I fight with God. I don't know why - I just do. He always wins. He's always right, and still I feel it necessary to voice my perspective and try to convince Him my way is best. I know... it's stupid, but it's true. But you do it too... you can't convince me you don't. We all do. We fail, but we fight.
Moses did too, but who could blame him. We pick up our story at an interesting climax... God in the form of a burning bush had spoken to Moses, a murderer in self-imposed exile, in the middle of nowhere, in the hot Near East sun that could play games with your mind and your vision, surrounded by sheep. This talking bush had sketched out a vague mission of rescuing millions of people from the oppression of what was arguably the most powerful nation of that age by approaching the power-drunken leader of that nation and asking nicely.
Had that been me, I might have voiced a few concerns too. "You're asking me to go before the highest power in the land with nothing more than a calling that no one but dumb sheep eye-witnessed, and not a soul can corroborate to ask for the release of millions of hard-working builders and domestics so they can take an indefinite leave of absence?" I don't see that going well... and neither did Moses. He had some pretty good reasons why that plan wouldn't work, but God had brilliant rebuttals for each of them.
First, Moses reasoned that he was a nobody. He had no authority with which to come before the Pharaoh, and even the people of Israel wouldn't recognize him as their leader. As much as they might have wanted to be delivered, Moses was still an Egyptian in their minds. And at this point, he didn't even carry moral authority - he was a murderer.
God's rebuttal? You don't need authority - you will have My presence with you. I'm all the authority you need.
Second, Moses reasoned that he had no history or experience with the people of Israel. He couldn't even confidently say who had sent him. He barely knew this God, so how was he supposed to explain him to the people?
God's rebuttal? Don't worry about your reputation, your history. My history is as a promise-keeping God who has heard of their affliction and will deliver them. Yes, I've been good in the past, but I'm about to show them what they've never seen before.
Nearly as if reading Moses' mind, God offered two more promises before Moses could argue them. They are two arguments that are always at the center of a calling from God... how will it happen and who's gonna pay for it? But God provided the answer up front - you don't need physical power or manpower when you have God's power and strength. And you don't need resources when God has given you a mission. He gives you His favor. He promised to inspire the Egyptians to be generous toward them as they left Egypt.
Next Moses argued that he had no credibility and no one would believe him. In an effective rebuttal of this, God simply provided miracles. What a gracious response! We don't always have the luxury of having seen God do what He can do, until we ask. We're short-sighted and often struggle to believe what we've only heard of. Then God show us what we can believe so that we can believe what we can't see.
Finally, Moses complained that he didn't have the right set of gifts. He wasn't a public speaker. He was barely a private speaker because of his slow stuttering tongue. And God reminded Moses that he was exactly as He had designed. Even at Moses' downright protest, God provided a companion and a support - Aaron and a staff. Moses had everything he needed to do everything God asked him to do.
And we do too.
I think if you've hung with me through all of these blog posts on the Favor of Him Who Dwells in the burning bush, there's a chance you're a bit like me - convince I've made a mess of my life, in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing of significance, humbled by a mundane life. I assure you that as hard as it is to believe, God has the grace to find you where you are and invite you to know Him like you never have before, a calling to make little of your life to make much of His glory, and a mission that defies all your reasonable arguments, fears and concerns.
He'll be with you. He'll work in a way you've never experienced, He'll strengthen you. He'll provide for you. He'll reveal miraculous things to you. He made you for this. Him who dwells in the burning bush has favored you with purpose. Go do it!