Summary: Moses raised many concerns about God's call in his life and God responded to each one of them.
I’ve titled today’s sermon, “How to lose an argument with God”. The simple answer is: get into one. I’ve had a few arguments with God, not too many because I like to think I’m a quick learner and I learned pretty early on that God’s way is, honestly, better than my way. Now that is not to say that I don’t still choose my way too often, because I do, I just don’t argue with God before hand… Instead I just make the poor choice and then later suffer the consequences and have to come back and kneel at Jesus’ feet and ask for forgiveness.
One of the arguments I lost with God was over my friend, Bruno Walter. Unfortunately for all of us, Bruno was part of our church family for far too short a time. Bruno was Mira’s husband, Bronek’s dad and Emily’s father-in-law, and grandpa to Scott and Christopher and Jonathan and Tomas. I remember one of the first times I started to get to know Bruno was over coffee with him and Mira at the 2nd Cup. It was delightful – both the conversation and watching the way the two of them interacted. I heard an amazing story of coming to faith in Christ, I heard an incredible story of how on Aug 20-21, 1968, the Russian army invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic where Bruno and Mira and their baby boy Bronek lived, and Bruno piled his family into a little car and drove past the tanks out of the country for good. And what I remember most was feeling fascinated and drawn to this man with a fierce intellect and gentle, loving spirit, who had figured out that arguing with people did nothing good so instead he was just going to love them, and I just wanted to hear more. Bruno kept saying, “Steve, you’re busy, you don’t want to sit here and listen to an old man tell stories…”, and I kept saying, “I’m not busy! I want to hear more!!”
It was not very long at all before Bruno was diagnosed with cancer. And God and I had a number of conversations about this. I told God I needed him as a friend in my life. I told God we needed him as a church – he had a depth and perspective that I just knew was critically important for where we were at as a congregation, he had gifts that I knew he could use that would build us up. Of course I talked with God about how his family needed him also. And I prayed and pleaded and asked and argued. And I lost; right around Christmas time, in 2007, Bruno set aside his earthly body and exchanged it for a heavenly one, and we celebrated his life and grieved his death.
I know many of you could tell similar stories, of a time when you argued with God. I’d be interested to know if any of you actually think you might have won the argument – that would make for a fascinating conversation! I’d actually like to try something a little different – I’d like you to gather into a bunch of small groups just where you are, and just have one person, anyone who is comfortable, share a quick story about an argument you might have had with God and how it turned out. If you don’t know all the people in your group, great! Just share your names and let the extrovert/story teller among you share a quick story.
Last week I started a little series I’m calling “Pivotal Moments in the Biblical Story”, and we looked at Abraham’s full and complete obedience to God when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed, but God intervened and stopped the sacrifice and then kept His promise to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation.
Fast forward about 250 years, and we find this “great nation” completely enslaved in Egypt. Today’s “pivotal moment” is when God appears to Moses and calls him to lead God’s people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. The story begins in Exodus 3.
Exodus 3:1-9 (NLT):
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
4 When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”