Summary: The first of a three part series, ‘Growing As We Go.’
Slide 1 A few weeks ago, I shared some questions that Gordon MacDonald believes are being asked by people at different stages of life. Now not only did those questions really interest me and cause me to think about the questions that I am asking at this point in my life, the story that MacDonald opened the article with, about a man in his small group, really grabbed my attention as well.
He began, “The man’s 51-year autobiography took more than an hour to read, and it disclosed struggles with addictions, difficult personal relationships, and career disappointments. It included accounts of success and failure, discoveries and disappointments. Mixed in were his ongoing efforts to improve a static-ridden connection with Jesus.”
Slide 2 I was struck by this phrase, ‘a static-ridden connection with Jesus,’ and I have become vitally concerned in my own life and in the lives of believers of all ages that we need to move beyond a ‘static-ridden connection with Jesus.’ Which begs the question, ‘How do we get a better and clearer connection to and with Jesus so that we are able to ‘grow as we go? For this sermon and the next two, we are going to study the lives of three Old Testament characters, Moses, King Uzziah, and Daniel, and the choices they made (or did not make) in their faith in and relationship with God.
Some of those questions that MacDonald believes we are asking I believe address the issue of developing and maintaining a better and clearer connection with Jesus as we ‘grow and go;’ through life, through joy, through pain, through disappointment, through changes and transitions, and through new opportunities. These questions are vital ones that must be answered and I believe can help us move beyond a ‘static-ridden connection’ with the Lord.
Here are the ones that I am encouraging us to write down this morning and prayerfully reflect on over the next month:
Around what will I center my life?
Why is my spiritual center so confused?
Why isn’t my faith deeper?
Are the best years of life over?
How do I deal with angers and resentments that I’ve never resolved?
How do I cope with all this increasing weakness around me?
Then there is one that I believe at a very basic level reflects all of these questions, Slide 4a ‘Can Christianity still work for me?’
(Now before I continue, I must give credit for this sermon series to God and to a pastoral colleague, Eric Simpson of Eagle Church here in Indiana, whose presentation at a Holiness Pastors Meeting in Indy last month forms the basis of this series.)
David Fitch recently wrote, ‘we do have a relationship with God which becomes personal but it is inseparable from His mission.’ And we see this personal and missional relationship in the first story we encounter in this series – Moses and His encounter with God at the burning bush.
Before we examine this familiar story, we need to remember a couple of things about Moses.
First of all Moses was born under very difficult circumstances. We first hear of Moses in Exodus 2 and as we read chapter 2 we discover that he is born an Israelite then hidden to prevent his murder as an Egyptian law had been passed to stop the births of Israelite boys out of fear of being overrun by them.
Next we notice that Moses, hidden in fear of being discovered, is found by, of all people, Pharaoh’s daughter, the very man who has decreed Moses’ execution. She takes him and, without knowing it, ends up asking his mother to be the baby’s care taker.
Years pass and Moses goes, as we read from the text, to see how his people are doing and discovers their unjust working conditions. It angers him and he kills an Egyptian foreman who is mistreating some Israelites. The next day, in an attempt to intervene in a dispute between two other Israelites, his actions are made public to others, including Pharaoh, who orders his arrest, and he flees Egypt.
Years pass and Moses grows old, very old, then Pharaoh dies but the Israelites are still in desperate straits. But God hears their crying and knows their situation and decides to send Moses to bring them out of Egypt and back to the land of Abraham.
Now I don’t know about you but my focus has always been on and my attention called to Moses and his role in this story. But, recently my attention was drawn to the fact that Moses was asked by God to do something for God. In other words I was reminded that as a follower of Christ, it is not about me and God, but about God then me, and this story, like the other stories in the Bible, is about God’s story, not my story. I have a role to play, I have a part in the story, but it is not (to use a musical analogy) as the conductor, or even first chair or first fiddle, but it is second fiddle. But how do I do that? I think that we need to look at Moses’ story or, better yet, God’s work in Moses’ story.