“Who, me?” Self-doubt when hearing the call of God Exodus 4:10-12
Have you ever been called to a task or position you felt utterly inadequate for? Well, so did Moses. Sometimes –when we think about it, most times – when God calls us to a task, he is calling us to a place of growth, and growth is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. But we are always stronger on the other side and can lean on our experiences of discomfort when moving into our next assignment.
Moses was in such a place. To put this passage in context, Exodus starts with Moses, who is born a Hebrew, escaping the slaughter of the young Hebrew boys, is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, commits murder, escapes to Midian to avoid punishment for the murder, and becomes a shepherd. He went from the lap of power to the humility of a common tender of sheep. While out tending his sheep, Moses encounters a burning bush that isn’t consumed by the fire. Here he encounters God described as the Angel of the Lord. God speaks to Moses and tells him that he is the one to lead the Hebrews out of slavery. He gave Moses three things to help him: a staff to enact miracles, healing a wound, and (most importantly) his name, YHWH. Neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob ever knew God’s name. But God has now revealed his name with all of its power to Moses.
So, what is Moses’ response? Here we pick up in vs. 10 of Exodus 4 (I am reading from the ESV):
But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Moses was not filled with the awesomeness of what he was experiencing; he was filled with self-doubt. Moses looked to his faults and shortcomings. He had not been to a Toast Masters course to learn how to do public speaking and the phrase “slow of speech and of tongue.” It could mean that he was a stutterer. Moses could not believe he could ever accomplish a task such as what God was calling him to. How can an exiled murderer who stutters ever convince the strongest earthy power to do the impossible?
God’s response back to Moses was telling in vs. 11:
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
This language is very similar to the answer God gave to Job when he had his period of doubt. Through chapters 38 – 41, God asks a series of rhetorical questions starting with 38:4-5:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
God wanted Moses as well as Job to not focus on who they were but on who he is. When they reflect on God, his works, and his character, that is where they will find their strength. On their own strength, no person could accomplish what Moses was called to do. No person, on their own strength, could endure what Job endured. It’s not about Moses or Job, its about God. God finishes up with vs. 12:
Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.
This is the word of God for the people of God
God provided Moses with what he needed to accomplish the task. He provides us with what we need to accomplish our ministries. When God calls us to a mission, we can opt to look at ourselves, our own weaknesses, our own shortcomings. There is no way we can accomplish what God wants us to do if we do. However, if we look to who God is, what he has done, and what he will provide to accomplish that which he calls us, then we can be encouraged.
It’s not about Moses. It’s not about Job. It’s not about you or me. It’s about God. Are you hearing the call of God for a task which you feel wholly unequipped to embark on? Remember Moses. He chose self-doubt. You don’t have to make that choice. God’s promise is that he will provide everything you need to be the person he calls you to be. Just seek him, and he will meet you right where you are at.