Reflections – 2018.08

Who Am I?

Moses was a failure in the saving business.  He had tried it.  Having seen the oppression of his people, he took matters into his own hands, killing an Egyptian taskmaster and then trying to mediate a conflict between two of the Hebrew slaves.  The result?  Moses ends up fleeing into the desert, where he spends forty years as a shepherd, caring for the sheep of his father-in-law.  A wanderer.  An exile.  A runaway.  A fugitive.  A failure.

And then the burning bush and a commission … Moses would be sent to Pharaoh to bring God’s people out of Egypt.   I think one can hardly blame Moses for his question, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  Sure, it was one question in a string of questions that would test God’s patience with His servant, a string of questions that ends with the request, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” And yet, forty years of reflection on his life, forty years of wandering in a foreign land, forty years of obscurity – certainly suggest that Moses is not crazy asking the Lord, “Who am I that I should go?”

God’s answer, “I will be with you”, reminds us that it was not Moses’ ability or status that was meaningful in terms of accomplishing the task he had been given, but God’s presence and power, and God’s plan for His people.

After the resurrection, Jesus met the disciples on a mountain and gave them the commission to go – not to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians, but to make disciples of all nations … to preach the Gospel to all peoples … to bring good news of deliverance from sin through faith in Christ.  There were only a few of them hearing that commission …  Likely they were asking themselves, “Who are we to make disciples of all nations?”

Jesus’ answer?  “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And so it is with us.  Those who become Christians later in life know the experience of forty (or so) years of pre-conversion futility, whether it involved chasing after some false god(s) or seeking to earn God’s favor with one’s own good deeds.  Such a person may struggle with feeling undeserving of any call which the Lord might place on his or her life – “Who am I?”  For those who have been Christians for as long as they can remember, that experience of “Who am I?” is also very real … we are called to live faithfully as God’s people in this world, in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, in the church and so on … And yet, we are made aware of our failures, the many times we fall short – “Who am I to be able to do these things?”  God’s answer? “I am with you.”  It is not about us.  It is about God being with us … always.

Life doesn’t always work out like we want it to.  Our sin, the sins of others, the presence of an enemy and the fallenness of the world guarantee it.  We will fail.  We will lack confidence because of our failures, because of our past sins, because it seems so impossible to live as God would call us to in the midst of some of the situations we face.  We will sometimes want to say to the Lord, “Who am I to do this? I am tired, please send someone else”  … In those times, brothers and sisters, we ought to remember the Lord’s answer to Moses, because it is His gracious and good answer to us:  “I am with you …”