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Anyone Else But Me

Moses said to the LORD, “O 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 man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4.10-13.

Moses final plea is literally, “Send, I beg you, by the hand you will send” which is a Hebraism for, “Send anyone else but me.” He just doesn’t want to go to Pharaoh. He just doesn’t want to be Israel’s liberator and Israel’s leader. He has tried to show God that he, Moses, is a really bad choice for the job, but God is simply not open to reason so Moses starts to beg … Not me, Lord. Please, not me!

Moses will find out, of course, that (as Paul so forcefully puts it) “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11.29). Not irresistable — they can be refused — but irrevocable. Once I am called, I am called; and that call remains on my life forever whether I am obedient to it or not. God will not change his mind about me or what he wants of me.

And those words of Paul remind me that gifts and calling go together. It was something Moses had to learn: that when God calls someone to a task, he equips them to fulfil it. Moses was given “the staff of God” (Exodus 4.20) with which to bring the plagues onto Egypt (Exodus 7.17 etc), to part the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14.16), to give victory in battle (Exodus 17.9), and to bring water from the rock (Numbers 20.11); but more importantly he was given gifts of discernment, wisdom, understanding and humility appropriate to his task. I can be sure that I too will have my “staff of God” and all other gifts I need to fulfil the call of God on my life.

Knowing that, surely my prayer should not be “O Lord, please send someone else” but rather (with Isaiah): “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6.8).

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry;
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
I will speak My word to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me;
I will hold Your people in my heart.

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