I'll admit it: I used to desperately hope that God wouldn't call me to be a missionary overseas. The thought of rats and no running water and spiders and sickness was too much. And then I'd worry that precisely because I didn't want to be a missionary, God would therefore call me to be a missionary. So, I'd try to hope secretly. You know, so God wouldn't pick up on it. Fly under the radar, so to speak. (I do, by the way, recognize that I had horrible theology if I believed that God would send me somewhere I didn't want to go simply to spite me).
I think my fear was that it would simply be too hard. But the thing is, God's calls can be too hard whether they involve packing up and moving to a third world country or staying put and trying to make a difference in our neighbourhoods.
When God calls Moses at the burning bush, Moses has a few objections to God's plan. In the midst of miracle and holy presence, Moses argues with God, and shows us how ordinary of a guy he was. After several attempts to dissuade God, he ends with the proclamation, "O my Lord, please send someone else!"
I love it--I can hear myself begging in the same way, saying, "God, this is just too big, too hard--can't someone else do it?"
I can relate to all of Moses' objections, but his first one especially sticks out to me:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
The first objection is all about identity. “Who am I?” Moses asks, “that I should do this job? I’m no one special. I’m just a shepherd, taking care of my sheep. I’m just a husband and a father.”
If you remember, Moses had killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. When Pharaoh heard about this, he wanted Moses dead. “Who am I?” Moses asks. “Do you remember that I fled from Egypt because the previous Pharaoh wanted to kill me? I’m a killer. I’m a fugitive. And you want to send me back there? I think you’ve got the wrong guy for this job.”
Do we ever raise the “Who am I?” objection? Who am I that God would call me to do something big? I’m just a mom. I’m just a nurse. I’m just a student. I’m just a professor. I’m just someone doing her job. I’m no one special.
Or maybe we go to our past, our failures. God would never call me for anything big because I’ve messed up too many times. I’ve failed too many people. I’ve made too many mistakes. I have too many shortcomings. I’m not good enough for God to use me.
If you were to tell me your doubts about God's call, and you started with, "Who am I, that I should do this?" I would start to tell you all of your strengths, all of the reasons you are perfectly suited for just such a call.
But that's not how God answers Moses:
God doesn’t say anything about Moses’ qualifications or position or gifts. Instead, God says, “I will be with you.” That’s all Moses would need for this call—for the God who goes-with to go with him.
“Who am I?” Moses asks, knowing that his identity might have been defined by any number of pieces from his past or his present and surely wouldn’t qualify him for something like this.
And God essentially answers, “Your identity, your suitability for this call is determined by the fact that I am going with you. It’s determined by the fact that I want you to partner with me in fulfilling my promises. It’s determined by the fact that I am calling you; you are mine."
We should be as stunned as Moses when we realize that God has arranged things in a way that allows us to participate with him in fulfilling his promises. We, who know how flawed and broken and messed up we are, should be amazed that God would invite us to work with him, to be agents of renewal, sowers of hope, as Jesus makes all things new. And yet, he does invite us.
And sometimes He invites us to do things that are too big. If God were to only call us to things that we could accomplish by ourselves, he could step out of the picture and we could take over. But that’s not how it works. God’s call to something, whatever it might be, usually includes a call to deeper dependence on God. Those things we can do without depending on God might be good and fine, but they are limited and keep our dreams and visions small. Yes, they will likely involve using our gifts, our passions, and our heartaches, but they will also, at some point, bring us to an end of ourselves and ask us to rely on God.
What bits of who you are make it difficult for you to believe that God would call you? Can you let go of those things long enough to hear God say, “I am sufficient for you?"
Stay tuned for another post on calling: send someone else: when God's call feels too small.