Summary: When God called Moses to the task of liberating a people, Moses felt self-doubt, uncertainty about God, and unreadiness. Actually these are positive values that will lead us as American Christians to take our place in the world.

How do you feel about eager volunteers? What’s your

reaction to the kind of person who is always ready to step up

to the plate and take a swing at some issue? How do you

really feel about those who quickly volunteer when

something needs to be done?

Maybe you remember what it was like to be a kid in the

classroom, and the teacher would ask a question. What did

you think about the kind of kid – and there was always one

seated next to me – who would vigorously wave her hand

and stage whisper, “Oh, oh, me, me, call on me, me!”?

Come on now; what did you really think? Miss Know-It-All.

Show-off. Teacher’s pet. You didn’t much care for the eager

volunteer, did you? She showed up your ignorance, and she

made you feel guilty. At the same time, you secretly were

glad she was there, because it meant that you didn’t get

called on. Volunteers are appreciated, and they’re not. They

are liked; and they are disliked. We feel uneasy about folks

who are always so available.

And so when there is a need, and somebody seems to think

we should volunteer, what goes on in our minds? What stirs

in our memories? When it is time to step up and meet a

challenge, we think we should, but we hope we don’t have

to. We think we maybe could, but then we suspect maybe

we couldn’t. When it is time to be available, we know we

shouldn’t feel this way, but we do want to say, “please send

someone else.” Anyone but me, please.

On that 4th of July in 1776 a number of men felt called to step

forward and to volunteer for a cause far larger than they

knew. They spoke that day of pledging their “lives, their

fortunes, and their sacred honor”. That was not an easy

thing to do. Some of them would lose their wealth. Others

would lose their families, as their sons would march off to

Lexington and Concord, Saratoga and Yorktown. And some

would lose their own lives as citizen soldiers who knew they

had to do more than shout ringing rhetoric in King George’s

face. They were volunteers; some of them were reluctant,

others more eager. But they found themselves at a time and

place where they knew they had to be available, available for

the cause of liberty.

Just as, at another time and place, a man who thought he

was settled and secure, fat and sassy, faced a call to

volunteer for the cause of liberating a people. That man, like

those of us who sat in classrooms with Miss Know-It-All, felt

several things. He felt self-doubt, he felt uncertainty, and he

felt unreadiness. But what he learned about being available

for liberation is of great value.

Moses had lived a rather unusual life. In fact, it was nothing

short of a miracle that he was alive at all. Born into slavery,

into a Hebrew family at a time when the powers that be in

Egypt were threatened by the strength of their slaves, Moses

should have been destroyed, along with a host of other

young boys. But he was not. By the grace of God and the

ingenuity of his mother, he was given not only his life, but

also an exceptional training, right in Pharaoh’s palace.

Moses had privileges well beyond what most of his peers

enjoyed; it looked like Moses was headed for something


But then Moses, like a lot of young people, made a mistake.

A big mistake. Not just a little boo-boo, but a huge, life-

changing blunder. He killed a man. In the heat of the

moment, he took another man’s life, and had to run. Moses

became a fugitive from justice, and ran to a far away land

called Midian. There he took on a wife, raised some kids,

and settled down into herding sheep. Sounds like Moses

achieved the suburban dream! It seemed the promise of his

earliest years had been forgotten, and that the mistake of his

young adulthood had been covered up. You can imagine

Moses just lying low and keeping cool. Like Bill Cosby said

when he observed a little old lady standing around looking

cool: “That’s how you get to be a little old lady, by standing

around looking cool”. That was Moses’ strategy: tend the

sheep, raise the children, keep the wife happy, be cool.

But Moses had not reckoned with God. God had other

things in mind for Moses. God wanted Moses to volunteer to

free His people. God expected Moses to be available for

liberation. Moses knew he should be available, and so he

spoke up, “Here I am”. And yet at the same time Moses was

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