Summary: Our ability to do the work of Christ is not constrained by our abilities so much as by our conception of God.
Title: Here I am – Send Him
Text: Exodus 3:1-16;4:1;10-13
In 1873, those who bothered probably knew Phoebe Knapp as nothing but the organist at her Methodist church in NYC. She was a wealthy enough woman – her parents had left her a large estate. But much of that was tied up in her husband’s company. Joe was the president of a declining insurance company called National Union Life and Limb. Nowadays, that company takes its name from the Metropolitan District where they eventually became successful – as MetLife. But in 1873, she wasn’t really all that special.
MetLife was started during the Civil War with the aim of helping assist soldiers who survived but were injured. After the war, making payments was hard. The great financial panic of 1873 hardly helped matters – it was like a miniature version of the Great Depression. Businesses were failing, and the insurance market was in great jeopardy. But Phoebe and Joe Knapp felt called to providing insurance. They stuck it out, and God’s providence they were able to continue their business. When the comparative wealth of the 1880s rolled around, they began to experiment with the British model of selling industrial policies door to door. With that mixture of hard work and good luck that defines most businesses, Joe and Phoebe Knapp were able to gain the wealth and fame comes with running an American icon like MetLife.
But Phoebe Knapp’s most enduring legacy was one that came in the depths. As I said, in 1873, she was just the organist at church. She and her husband were known for their piety. But, key to who they were was their trust in God, letting him work through them through their circumstances.
In Exodus 3, Moses is in a similar situation. You’ll remember two weeks ago we learned about Moses’ eye for justice and how it compelled him to action. When Moses set out to accomplish righteous ends using his own human methods, things didn’t go so well. When Moses set to accomplish righteous ends using God’s methods, things worked out better. But still, Moses was now stuck way out in the desert. For all practical purposes, he was a nobody. Here was a man who was prince of Egypt, now stuck watching sheep. Talk about a waste of potential. You’d think that a prince would be destined for better things.
God had a plan for Moses. And if God wants to do something, it’s going to happen! God wanted Moses to be the man who gave Israel his deliverance. That’s a pretty demanding deed for desert wanderer. So God did something he doesn’t often do. He called Moses directly. We all have some image in our minds of the burning bush. It’s a famous encounter. God calls on a man, and asks man to join him in what He’s doing.
God still calls us today, even if he is less dramatic about it. One of the joys of serving this church is seeing how many of you respond to his call. But you know that isn’t true of everyone. For whatever reason, when God calls, their response is more like that of Moses – Here I am, Send my brother. Why is that? Well, I’d like to suggest an answer to that this morning – one that I think is illustrated by the questions Moses asks, and more importantly by the answers God gives.
You see, when God calls us to join him, it’s pretty natural to have questions. After all, he’s God, and well, we’re not. How we answer those questions determines what part we’ll have in his work.
The First Question
You’ll notice that Moses has a very natural reaction to God’s call in his life. Here is God Almighty, calling out of the burning bush, telling Moses that he is to act as Israel’s Deliverer. That’s no easy task. And Moses has already shown that he can take God’s call and mess it up. So, what’s Moses first question? Who am I to do this, God? I mean, come on – yes, I was once going to be a prince, but that’s many years and many miles back. Who am I?
In this age where self-esteem is the most important value we teach our children, God has an interesting answer. God simply says, “I will be with you.” Notice God doesn’t say, “Oh, Moses you’ve been trained” or “Moses, you’re a good man.” No, God says, ‘Who you are isn’t important.’ It doesn’t matter.
Saturday Night Live used to have a recurring character named Stuart Smalley would have his daily affirmation. He would look in a mirror with a straight face and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and Gosh darn it, People like me!” It was a great parody of the age, but sadly I know too many people who actually think like that. And yet, what is God’s answer? It doesn’t matter who you are. If I’ve called you, there’s only one thing you need to know – I’m with you.