I have been encouraged recently by the story of Moses. Well, “encouraged” is the wrong word…perhaps it would be more accurate to say “relieved.” In the typical, gentle way that God has–in stark contrast to my brutal self-beatings–He dropped into my mind the verse about Moses’ speech impediment when I was in a low moment.
What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Let’s read a few passages first:
“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.” Exodus 4:10-17 (NLT)
“‘But Lord!’ Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!“
But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them orders for the Israelites and for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 5:12-13 (NLT)
Ah. I love how God uses the most unlikely people for His glory. And not “uses” in the sense of draining and discarding them. Rather, He transforms them into more than they imagined for themselves and imbues them with purpose and joy. That, and I think God chose the most stubborn, evil, underqualified, broken, and ignorant people as a way of saying to us, “There is no one beyond My help, My plans, and My love; and there is nothing about anyone that can or will dissuade Me from bringing about My good plans in them.”
So Moses was a stutterer. That and he had killed an Egyptian in an Israelite’s defense, so I imagine he was none too thrilled to go back to Pharaoh. I can sympathize with Moses’ reluctance. Yet God chose this man–a stutterer, murderer, and fugitive–to boldly speak to both Israeli slaves and Pharoah himself.
What I really love about this story, though, is God’s response. Moses presents his disability to God and God essentially says, “Puh-leeze, I’ve sooo got this.” Still Moses is not convinced, and he begs again to be let off the hook. Now God is angry, but He isn’t deterred. Honestly, if I was God, at this point I might consider wringing Moses’ neck. Thankfully, I am not God, and what He did instead was mercifully allow a compromise–Aaron could speak on Moses’ behalf.
I’m not entirely sure why we see this exchange, or why God worked the way He did. My first thought is that this passage is a reflection of God’s gentle consideration of our make-up. He reminds us that with Him, all things are possible, but at the same time, He doesn’t give us more than we can handle at this moment.
Notice how in Exodus 5, Moses speaks with the Israelites and that doesn’t go so well. In fact, conditions get worse for the slaves. Now Moses reminds God again of his weakness, falling back on his disability when things go south. He is saying, How can I be expected to speak in front of the Big Kahuna when speaking with the peons was so disastrous? See, I told God I couldn’t do this. This time, however, God does not cater to Moses’ shortcomings. Instead he tells them to go to Pharaoh and lead His people. Period. Just do it. Presumably Moses is ready now to circumvent his weakness, or rather plow right through it because God is with him.
You can continue on in Exodus for the rest of the story—it has a happy ending. How often do we think our own stories will have a happy ending? I don’t. Most days I’m just thankful that I have all of my limbs and full use of my senses. And on the particular day when God reminded me of the story of Moses, my brain had stopped making serotonin and my future looked bleak. How on earth could God use me? I was too broken, too angry, too hurt, too underqualified, too unloving, too depressed to be of any real use to Him. I didn’t meet up to what people expected of a follower of Him; not in my personality, demeanor, or preferences. Surely I was fit only for the garbage pile.
I tried to encourage myself by thinking about Paul, about how God had taken a brutal killer and transformed him into an incredible apostle. But that wasn’t working. My problem wasn’t that I hadn’t chosen God. My problem was physical, biological, emotional, mental–I just wasn’t right. And that’s when He whispered to me about Moses’ speech impediment. There is nothing about us that can’t be used, that can’t be redeemed, that can’t be transformed.
I’m gradually feeling more comfortable about my brokeness. Sure, it still causes problems, but not ones without a God solution. As a dear friend says, No one is too difficult a child for God to handle.