Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Two Big Questions

This past Sunday Pastor Strickland picked up where we had left off with the feu-à-tête.

The premise had been established - Moses was going to lead God's people out of Egypt.

Now the pretext as to why Moses couldn't possibly be the one to do this was offered -- by Moses, of course. "Who am I?" he asked incredulously. Perhaps he was thinking, Why me, now? I tried to do this when I was young and had authority and all my wits about me and could possibly control the people. Now I'm not young, I'm not agile, I'm not well spoken or well connected. I'm not even angry any more.

"Certainly I will be with you," was the reply. A sign was even proferred: when Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, he would worship back on this same mountain where this dialogue was taking place. Wait a minute -- a rearview mirror sign?! Moses would be required to take action in faith that God, who had told him what to do, would fulfill it.

But Moses couldn't leave well enough alone. "Who shall I say you are?" In other words, as Tim put it, Moses was asking God, "Who are You?"

I have often wondered about the exact tone that God would have used in His response to Moses. Was it the booming voice through the fire, clouds and darkness in which He would give the ten commandments to Moses? Or was it the still, small voice that Elijah would hear?

I would like to think that maybe it was the voice that He would use when He invited Peter to join Him in walking on the water: "Come," He would say, matter of factly, like it was so simple. "I Am who I Am," He said here to Moses, maybe matter of factly, because it was so simple. Nothing to prove. Each word given equal weight. "Tell them 'I Am' has sent you."

When Moses had killed the Egyptian he was pretty arrogant, pretty sure he was right, pretty confident that the people would follow him to freedom. After all, he knew exactly who he was: a Prince of Egypt with education, wealth, power, influence, a purpose. He knew his worth.

Forty years in the desert gave him a clearer understanding of himself and his worth. He was nothing in the eyes of the people of Egypt. He wasn't much to his father-in-law -- herding sheep is what he could be trusted to do. He even doubted himself.

And with this self-knowledge, he was exactly at the point where he could be used, where he could be the leader of his people. Because along with the true knowledge of himself came the dawning of the realization of who God is.

God had not changed, from before the foundation of the world. How and who He was, He is, and He will always be. He was the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He would be the same God who would get the Jews disentangled from the Egyptians. The same God who would establish the nation of Israel. 

Something Tim noted that is worth repeating is how so often we get the answers to the two questions completely backward. We think, like Moses did originally, that we are central to our lives, our world, and that God is somewhere on the periphery -- if He is anywhere at all! When we can get to the point of realizing that we are nothing and God is everything, then we can start to be used. "The dynamic tension" is how Tim put it.

God - "I Am"; and me - "I am not." In that order. Nothing else.

It's so simple. But it certainly isn't easy.

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