our past and God’s future…

In Exodus 3 and 4 we get the opportunity to be flies on the wall, so to speak, for a conversation between God and Moses. This is more than a friendly chat; God is calling Moses to kick-start redemptive history by going to Egypt and acting as God’s emissary to Pharaoh. Moses has a pretty clear message to deliver: God has heard the cry of his people and their groaning under the oppressive rule of the Egyptian monarch, and God says, “Let my people go!”

At first Moses resists God’s calling on his life. He responds to God:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“What if the Israelites ask me for your name? Who are you?”

“What if they refuse to listen to me? What if they doubt that you have called me?”

“Lord, you know that I am not a good public speaker.”

And, when all that stalling didn’t change God’s mind, Moses realized he was totally out of excuses:

“O my Lord, please send someone else,” Moses begged.

At first we might wonder why Moses would pass up such an invitation. God, THE GOD, is inviting you to join him in the rescue of your/his people…and you pass? Seriously? It’s pretty astounding, until we remember that, for Moses, Egypt represents the past. His past. And one, I imagine, he’d rather forget. See, Moses was a lucky guy. He was born a Hebrew during a time when the Egyptian king had instituted a policy of genocide against Hebrew boys [read Exodus 1]; yet Moses was saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up on the good side of the tracks. He wasn’t forced to work as a slave, building Pharaoh’s empire. But one day, while watching an Egyptian beat one of his people, Moses snapped. He killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. However, his crime was soon discovered, and he was on the run. I imagine Moses intended to never go back to Egypt. In Egypt he was a wanted man. In Egypt he would be reminded of his past.

In his book, Consuming Fire, Michael Duggan makes an interesting observation about Moses’ resistance to God’s call. He writes that

“Moses’ objections are rooted in his past experiences, while God’s responses promise a qualitatively new future.”

I think he’s on to something here, but it isn’t just about Moses, is it? How many of us resist God’s call? How many of us have our standard litany of excuses that all involve our weaknesses, inabilities, fears, and insecurities. We are experts in all of the ways we fall short. We know all of our mistakes, screw ups, and blunders. We disqualify ourselves based on what happened back in Egypt, don’t we?

Then God assures us, as he did Moses, with five simple, yet incredibly profound words:

“I will be with you.”

Apparently our pasts, our mistakes, our Egypts aren’t deal breakers for God. He meets us in our regret, in our guilt, shame, and mistakes with his grace…and an invitation to be part of the new future that he is creating. A future that he invites us to be part of creating and shaping. 

Are you letting your past–your Egypt–keep you from the call God has for you?

What would it mean for you to embrace God’s invitation to join him in shaping and creating a new future? 

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