The Call of Moses
By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee
Moses went from the palace to the pasture, from naked aggression to fleeing in fear. A fugitive from justice, he never imagined that he would announce the humbling of the most powerful nation on earth. Alone on the backside of the desert, he was but one more solitary shepherd where the closest thing to a human voice was the bleating of a sheep. His earlier childhood fantasies of power and kingdoms faded in the far side of the desert. But it was here, not there, where God spoke to him.
A random fire was not that unusual in the desert. But one that burned without consuming or spreading? That deserved a second look. The wonder of a moment took on an eternal air as God stooped low to speak to a forgotten shepherd whose past was paved with failure. Then more startling than the bush, Moses heard the voice of God.
Soon, God laid out the plight of the Israelites, something that Moses knew well. Then, the shocker: “So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:20, emphasis mine).
With evidence of past failure all around him, he asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:21). Even if Moses had not made a total mess of things in the past, this job was just too big. The only thing he had led for four decades was a flock of dumb animals. But God looks beyond resumés.
“I will be with you…” was God’s reply (Exodus 3:22). Whenever God calls a man or a woman, He never sends that one to do anything alone. God did not encourage Moses to boost his sagging self-esteem, but to assure him that if he would obey he could rely on the all-powerful God of eternity to be right there with him. Those who heed the call of God move forward with this absolute confidence.
Moses offered up a series of excuses as to why it should not be him. No doubt some of these were real concerns. However, at the root of it all was that Moses found life with sheep comfortable in its own way. He knew where his tent was at the end of the day. He had made a nice home for his wife and children. His life was manageable. It was all under his control. But to do what God wanted was to surrender control, to lose the security of a predictable and settled life.
For many, the sticking point to obeying God’s call is this. They want to choose their own jobs, their own addresses, claim time for themselves. Which is fine if God has not called you. But if He has, you are in a job where He doesn’t want you in a place you shouldn’t be and pursuing what isn’t yours right to have.
This is the first instance when God called someone when they were already at work, but it is not the last. God called David while he was tending sheep, Isaiah when he was laboring in the Temple, Elisha while he was plowing with oxen, Amos while farming, Peter, James, John and Andrew while they were fishing and Matthew while he was collecting taxes. All were busy in their jobs when God interrupted them with His call. Which tells us two things: God’s work is not for lazy people. And, if He calls you to full time ministry, you have to walk away from what you were doing to where He is taking you.
One final observation. When Moses offered his last objection, God asked, “What is that in your hand?” Moses answered, “A staff” (Exodus 4:2). God then instructed him to throw it on the ground and it became a snake. As time went on, that staff was carried into the throne room of Pharaoh, was lifted skyward to release plagues on Egypt and to signal the parting of the Red Sea.
It was a stick, but God took what Moses had in his hand and made it an instrument of His work. God will do the same with you. You are not responsible for what you do not have, but if you will heed His call and give Him what you do have, He will take it and work mighty things through it. Note that after this point, Moses’ stick was called “the rod of God.” Ownership complete. What do you have in your hand? Who owns it?