The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Exodus 4:11 NIV
One of my sons struggled a bit with a few of God’s choices for him. The way he put it, “I got all the bad stuff from my parents.”
In 7th grade, he watched helplessly as his friends propelled past him several inches in height, shooting steadily upward in rapid growth spurts. He grew decidedly slower, evoking the fear that he’d end up small like his mom. He also got dad’s teeth—which came complete with braces—and then he discovered he has his mother’s eyes. Glasses loomed in his future.
It was tough being twelve.
At the time, these things he perceived as limitations obscured his view of anything else. He couldn’t see past them. They completely overshadowed any thought of his potential. He didn’t yet understand that every part of himself he views as weakness provides an opportunity for God to show His strength.
You and I tend to do the same thing. We get stuck on our limitations and often allow them to rob us of joy and blessings that wait just on the horizon. Even our friend Moses left some things on the table, and scripture records that he left a legacy like no other.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face . . . For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 34:10, 12
Let’s rejoin Moses in the desert and uncover what he may have missed.
Last week we took a front row seat to his encounter with God through a burning bush. Out of all the people on the face of the earth, God handpicked Moses to lead His people to their deliverance. What had Moses done to deserve such an honor? Absolutely nothing. God found him hiding in the desert, consumed by his past failure.
But God doesn’t call us based on our incredible strengths and abilities. He calls us according to His purpose. Moses hadn’t earned the position God held out to him. God simply offered Him a gift of grace. His responses to Moses’ protests prove that to be true.
God didn’t answer Moses’ doubt by building him up and encouraging his abilities. What Moses could or couldn’t do didn’t matter. God answered by promising Moses three things.
- I will be with you. Exodus 3:12
- I AM all that you need. Exodus 3:14
- I will prove to the people that I am with you through miraculous signs. Exodus 4:1-9
Still, Moses remained unconvinced. Immediately upon experiencing a miraculous display of God’s power, Moses offered up his final retort.
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.” Exodus 4:10
Part of me wants to interrupt their conversation right here and ask Moses, “Are you serious?”
He had just seen God turn the staff he was holding into a snake. Then he watched his own hand turn leprous and restore itself again at God’s command. Yet he faced God and said, “I don’t think so. I don’t like the way I talk.”
Pay close attention to God’s response.
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.” Exodus 4:11-12
Essentially God said to Moses, “I made your mouth. I will help you speak.”
But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses . . . Exodus 4:13-14
Sometimes we need to be careful what we wish for.
Even after all of God’s promises and a grand display of miraculous power, Moses asked God to send someone else. In anger, God granted Moses’ request, but that still didn’t get Moses out of going.
“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth . . .” Exodus 4:14-16
Don’t miss the cost of Moses’ stubbornness, dear one. Yes, God in His mercy provided Aaron to help Moses communicate with the people, but Moses forfeited a miracle God wanted to perform on his behalf. God didn’t plan to have another man speak for Moses “as if he were [his] mouth” (verse 16). God desired to reveal His power through Moses by making his mouth speak (verse 12)! God’s purpose still prevailed, but poor Moses argued himself right out of his blessing.
I wonder how many times you and I have talked ourselves out of a blessing God had waiting on the edge of a step of faith. How often have we wrestled against God’s purpose for our lives and refused to trust Him for His best?
Several years ago, through this very passage, God convicted me of my own doubt. I stood before my class one Sunday morning, teaching on these verses, and God’s presence washed over me as He whispered to my heart, “That’s you, dear one.” Tears stung my eyes and my throat tightened. Before I even had time to think about it, I closed my eyes before the women, lifted my face toward heaven, and answered Him. “God forgive me.”
You see, I have chosen to live my life for the glory of the Lord. And amazingly, He has used this life to bring about some small part of His plan for His church. But I often tended to act like Moses did when God invited him to participate. I allowed my view of myself and my limitations to overshadow my view of God. In those moments, God has still used me to bring about His will, but perhaps I’ve missed some of what God wanted to do for me in the process.
I don’t want to leave any more blessings on the table!
God has great things to do right now in our generation. Let’s commit together to believe big things of God. The God who made our mouths can cause them to speak with boldness. The God who made the seas still has power to make them part.
Our I AM is so much greater than our limitations. As we readily respond in faith, we will witness His great power.