Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I am has sent me to you.'"

Exodus 3:13-14 NIV

While the Israelites had been crying out to God for many years, there had been almost no worship of Him. Moses knew that the issue at hand is not about God’s name but His relevance.

Moses believed that if he went to Egypt, announcing that God is ready to move, the Israelites would say that their circumstances had never been worse. They would think: How is this long-silent God relevant to us now? Why shouldn’t we consider some other God or other way to navigate this terrible circumstance.

Terrible circumstances can do this to us. They can hurt so badly and cut so deeply that news of another, better day might fall on deaf ears. We may have once hoped, but now we doubt. Circumstances may have affected us so badly that we wonder if anything that we believe is worth believing.

If we find ourselves controlled by our circumstances, we first need to ask ourselves, “How am I doing with God?” We may have once had burning passion, but now does that same passion sit in lukewarm ashes? Maybe the answers were too long in coming, and we’ve settled in a new place called: Life Without an Answer.

When God shows up and says that He is going to do the thing that we’ve grown exhausted asking Him for, we may find ourselves wondering, “Who is God to show up now after all I’ve been through?”

When God told Moses to tell the Israelites that He is “I am who I am,” God is saying that He defines circumstances, and that He is not defined by them. His power can be described by how He moves in our situations, but our situations do not confine or define who God is. God transcends our circumstances.

God says to every one of us that He exists above our circumstances. They don’t affect His character, power, or personality. Our circumstances cannot define Him, so we must stop allowing our circumstances to shape our understanding of who God is. Instead, we should let our understanding of God and our faith in God shape our understanding of our circumstances.

But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

Exodus 3:11-12 NIV

Moses, who had just been stopped by a bush that was burning but wasn’t consumed, was now engaged in a conversation with God, who wanted to send Moses back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from bondage. God wanted to take the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land so that the Israelites could own and claim it.

Much to Moses’ surprise, God chose him to lead this mission. But at this point of Moses’ life, he is an aged, married family man. He’s now standing in front of the weirdest and wildest representation of divine purpose that someone could imagine. God wants to use him to do something that demonstrates His power.

However, Moses protests. He asks God, “Who am I?” He doubts who he is in the presence of God. Moses trusts in the power of the One who is behind the voice, but he can’t believe that he is the correct choice.

In our lives, we may also wonder why God chose us. However, the lesson that we can learn from this text is that God still uses people. He uses us to express His will, accomplish His works, and show His way. And He often uses people who don’t see themselves as qualified, ready, or prepared.

Each one of us is gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit. The shocking news to some of us is that God intends to express and achieve His will through each one of us. God wants us to change conditions, impact people, extend His love, and express His will.

We all know how important it is to nurture our intimacy with God. We cannot grow up in God until we grow down in relationship with Him. All of us understand that we ought to share our faith. However, we also have a personal mission. What is the mission that God has revealed for each of our lives?

Until we know our missions, we can’t make any sense out of why everything has synchronized the way that it has. Once we know our mission, we can see the way that God is moving the chess pieces. This includes all of our hurts, troubles, and idiosyncrasies, but it also includes all of our possibilities, relationships, and open doors.

God has been using every part of our lives to get us in front of the burning bush so that we can say, “Yes.”

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."

John 16:12-15 NIV

In this passage, Jesus wants the disciples to look at His crucifixion differently than their saddened emotions have let them. Jesus wants them to understand that His physical departure is a gift that pushes them to be carriers and conduits for the Holy Spirit. Jesus has been encouraging them all along with teachings and examples.

Jesus wanted to trust His disciples with more. He wanted to trust them with divine revelation, knowledge, and vision. He wanted to tell them more about the connection that his death would have to the salvation of the world. However, the disciples couldn’t handle the weight of it at that time. The disciples’ emotional turmoil would have prevented them from truly receiving anything that Jesus would have given them.

The issue was that the disciples had a weak spiritual immune system. Jesus’ prescription for this was to give them a gift: to walk and work with the disciples at their own pace. This gift precedes the Holy Spirit. Jesus couldn’t have given the disciples the Holy Spirit at this point.

When Jesus says “I have… more than you can bear,” He chose to walk at their pace, and allowed the gift of the Holy Spirit to administer that knowledge at the correct pace. Then, the disciples could come to a place where they could handle more.

As Christians, we want to hear whatever God has to say to us. Whatever He wants to do through us, we want to do. Jesus’ statement, “I have… more than you can bear” is not an indictment, but it is a call towards more. Jesus has provided us the tools to acquire that knowledge and revelation: the Holy Spirit.

Jesus understands that our emotions are real. No matter where we are in terms of our emotional growth, the pain that we feel is real. So, we have to accept that sometimes where we are is not the right time for us to accept new revelation. That doesn’t, however, mean that there is nothing more to come. God has more for us, but in order to get us to the correct place, we have to walk with Jesus.  

Each one of us is at a different spiritual place. Each one of us emotes life differently. This mandates that in certain seasons we can’t handle much more of anything good or bad. God understands that. Our spirituality doesn’t mandate that we all run life at the same pace. We can’t all carry the same weight at the same time.

We cannot beat ourselves up for following life at our own pace. We cannot let other peoples’ expectations become our expectations of ourselves. If we try to outpace ourselves and God’s pace for our lives, we may find ourselves choking at an altitude that we were not supposed to occupy. Instead, we need to trust in God and the Holy Spirit that He is guiding us and pacing our lives to grow.  

Moses said to the LORD, "Pardon your servant, LORD. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

The LORD said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

Exodus 4:10-12 NIV

Moses offers God a protest, trying to avoid going back to Egypt to lead a massive liberation movement, just like he had tried to moments before. Scholars debate what Moses means here in the Hebrew, but what Moses is certainly doing is suggesting that the assignment is too much for his current ability.

Moses feels this deeply, making it clear that in this very conversation he had been unable to speak fluently or eloquently. Moses is concerned that if God wanted him to accept this assignment, the proof would have been to change his limitation to an ability.

But God’s answer is interesting because it implies that God shaped Moses with these limitations and purposed that he would live with them. When God says, “Who gave human beings their mouths?... Is it not I, the Lord?” He makes it clear that not only has He given every person their gifts but also their purposed inabilities.

God has purposed our limitations for us. No matter our location, opportunities, or efforts, some things in our lives will always be limitations. God’s purpose for our lives includes these selected inabilities. The easy answer to this is that it is God’s sovereign choice, but that answer only sounds fine until what God wants us to do makes our limitations glaringly obvious.

The more difficult answer is to admit that God thought that it was best for us, as His disciples, to steward inability to be faithful to Him. But why, especially when it would be easier to perform our callings without our inabilities?

God’s answer to Moses is, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” The answer is to let God’s presence make the difference and to let God teach us how to live, in spite of our weaknesses. We don’t always need to be gifted in an area to be effective in an area.

God chose to teach Moses how to be strong even in the areas of his weakness. He was able to make Moses strong without taking away his weaknesses. God chose to show Moses that He could do more with Moses’ weaknesses than Moses could ever do with his strengths. The same is true for us, because we don’t need to be gifted to be successful.

When we choose to follow in God’s direction, He will help us to accomplish what we have been commissioned to do, in spite of our weaknesses. He will help us speak and teach us what to say.

He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Luke 24:44-53 NIV

We know that the disciples kept missing God’s spiritual intentions because of their imprisonment to the belief that Jesus was going to lead a revolution. But here, Jesus, on the day of His ascension, made His intentions clear.

Jesus systematically and methodically walked the disciples through what the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets had to say, and this is all demonstrated in His loving sacrifice and His resurrected triumph.

The most intriguing part of this text is not Jesus’ desire for us to clearly understand who He is and who we are. This is to be expected. But what is most intriguing is when Jesus opens the understanding of the disciples so that they might comprehend the scriptures. This highlights how much Jesus wanted the disciples to know Him. He opened their minds at a deeper level so that they could come to understand Him not just in their minds but also in their souls.

This is the very thing that we need to pray for. We may already be saturating our lives in prayer and immersing ourselves in the scriptures and worship. However, what may be missing in our lives is a posture that helps us to understand everything that God is doing. We don’t want to house God’s revelation in ourselves but be unable to comprehend it.

One way to posture ourselves to comprehend the power that God has given us is to contemplate our journey. We can look at our journey and think how hard our lives have been, but when we look and see how the Lord is orchestrating our journey to perform a divine work in each one of our lives, we can see how the dry seasons have been a part of God’s revelation in our lives.

When we have access to God’s power but lack comprehension, we miss opportunities and blessings and mismanage relationships. No matter what we pray for, it is necessary that we ask God for understanding. Our understanding may be the key to our ability to offer faithful stewardship of that which we are asking God for.