Recently I have been reading through how Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. His life serves as a great reminder that God can use people lacking in self-confidence and even when well past their prime.
Moses lived 120 years, but the Bible documents his final 40 years most heavily. Only a small portion of time was given to his first 80 years of life. One of the reasons reading his story gives so much inspiration is that he is very much like us.
When God appeared to him in a burning bush in the wilderness and tried to enlist him to lead Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, Moses used most every excuse in the book to get out of it. First, he appealed to his insecure identity. He asked the “who am I?” question, essentially saying that he was not important enough to stand before Pharaoh. God assured Moses that He would be with him.
Second, he insinuated that he wouldn’t know what to say when people ask him who sent him there. God, still patient, told him that “I AM” has sent him. God, the self-existing One and eternal God, was sending Moses to Egypt.
Third, Moses questioned whether the people would even believe him if he did tell them who sent him. As a sign, God told Moses to throw his staff down, and the staff became a snake. Then when Moses picked it up again, it returned to a staff. As a second sign, God told Moses to put his hand into his cloak, and his hand became leprous. But when he put his back into his cloak and took it out again, it returned to normal. These signs would certainly convince Israel.
Fourth, he made the excuse that he couldn’t speak well. He laid the “I’m afraid to do public speaking” card. Actually, he went so far to say that he was slow at speaking. He pretty much insulted his own intelligence, to which God rightfully pointed out that He made his mouth and that He would help him to speak.
Fifth, Moses just told him to find someone else. He wasn’t interested. We have all been there when people ask us if we could help with something. If we don’t want to, we try to come up with polite excuses to make our saying “no” less abrasive, but we hope that people stop asking. Then as they keep asking, we become increasingly blunt, and if push comes to shove, we will just be blunt and outright say “no.” That’s pretty much Moses here. He tried to come up with the most logical and decent reasons for why he shouldn’t go. As God systematically shot down Moses’ excuses, Moses kept trying to come up with something else. Eventually, Moses ran out of lame excuses and told God “no.”
The good news is that the story doesn’t end here. Even Moses’ reluctance to doing God’s will didn’t stop God. God told him that Aaron would speak for him and that he (Moses) would most definitely be going to Egypt.
Moses went to Egypt, and Israel was so excited that God sent someone to rescue them. However, with Moses and Aaron’s appeals to Pharaoh to let God’s people go, it started to backfire. Or so it seemed. Pharaoh increased their work responsibilities and made life extremely difficult for them. But as God worked His miracles through Moses and Aaron throughout Egypt, God made it clear that He had not forgotten His people.
Following the 10 plagues of Egypt, Pharaoh urged Aaron and Moses to take the children of Israel out of Egypt. They led them out of Egypt, where God once again displayed His glory by opening up the Red Sea to allow Israel to cross on dry ground and then spelling the defeat of the Egyptian armies in the Red Sea.
Moses went from being an insecure, uncertain, and unwilling person without a clear message or good relationship with God to leading God’s chosen people out of bondage in Egypt. Added to all this, he spoke with Pharaoh when he was 80 years old. It is truly amazing how God can use someone so very human to be a vessel of service to Him.
The life of Moses teaches us that God uses broken people – even people that make ridiculous excuses – for His glory. Most of us will not be called to such a mammoth task as leading the exodus of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, let alone at age 80. However, God still wants to use us, with our imperfections, so that His power and strength can be shown alive in our lives.
In what ways do you think God wants to use you? Is there a specific person or people group God wants you to minister to?