Let that sink in while I tell you a story.
Forty years ago, I lived in Germany. During that time, my grandparents came over for a two week visit. We went everywhere, all over Bavaria, Austria, & Switzerland, all by train. Guess what? Neither of them spoke German. I, however, was fluent in it. It happens when you're a kid. I ordered our food, got the hotel rooms, bought the train tickets, read directions on getting here and there, and chatted up anyone we met along the way.
If you dropped me in the middle of Munich right now I would be able to not starve obviously order a beer, but I would look like a bumbling fool as I stuttered and stammered my way through asking directions and various needs of any non-native.
Because it’s been forty years and my extended family thought it weird to speak a foreign language and not wanting to be embarrassed for my love of the language, I stopped speaking it altogether.
Shame really but thank God for Duolingo.
Imagine being a military genius, well verse in all things Egyptian, dark arts and magic, the language etc, and removing yourself from that scene for forty years. How easy do you think it would be to not only go back and order a melon and leek salad, but to stand up to the new Pharoah and demand he let your people freely leave? Standing up to someone who knew how to tamper with magic and realms and curses would be a scosh intimidating. Not to mention, ummm, you're wanted for murder.
My guess is, you, like me with German, would say, “umm, I can’t speak properly.” Perhaps you’d be thinking, I don’t know, I’m not so good with the words- war and directing troops are more my gig. At minimum you too, would have a bag of excuses, none of which would be that you stuttered.
The speaking thing is the last point he makes with God, and exasperated God sends him with Aaron and off they go.
As I have learned more and more Hebrew I have sat on this scene in scripture or awhile. It bothers me when I see the cultural norm is to teach something that is off. Even if off only a little, it’s still off. There is something about that feels wrong somehow.
I’ve prayed, pondered and wondered, why does this bug me so much?
In the Western mindset, we sure do love an underdog story. A personal family fav is the Red Sox incredible win in 2004, or the Cubbies with their glory story of winning in 2016 after a 108 year losing streak. The underdog story is a classic, and preachers for decades build whole doctrines around the underdog.
When it comes to our own life, looking at a biblical character’s own shortcomings somehow weirdly makes us feel better as followers of Jesus. Almost like we get a pass if we aren’t good at something and well, God will use anything. I mean, He will, but who wants to be the ass in the story who ends up rebuking a prophet? Or, who wants to be the prophet that gets a word from a talking ass?
Isn’t better to be the willing one, someone who gets an assignment and rather than offering a litany of excuses, we saddle up and ride?
Isn''t it said that He desires obedience over sacrifice, or in today's terms- doing what He said rather than volunteering at church?
Isn’t God a better teacher than life?
Once I learned that the Hebrew word which is poorly translated into the word slow, is actually heavy, (kabed) I cannot shake this pesky thought. The thought is this- what if we taught believers that God asks us only to do what He has front loaded us for, and He would rather us not argue but in fact totally and completely trust that we do in fact know how to do the things.
What if instead of glorifying the underdog we looked straight in someone's eyes and said "you are totally built for this and you're AMAZING so do it already!"?
I have pondered what Moses journey might have looked like had he trusted the Lord straight out the gate. Was Aaron stepping into a role he wasn't designed for? Did Moses miss out on seeing God do some pretty cool things through his mouth, like oh I don't know, maybe bringing back the ease of speaking the language in a matter of seconds? Could this have been a sweet beginning to unequivocal trust in the Lord and the amount of times he disobeyed would have been a sum total of zero throughout the Exodus time?
I think through this because, in my own life, He often calls me to the weirdest things that few understand. I argue and ask a million plus questions- wanting a stupid amount of assurance that it will work because heaven forbid I sound foolish and odd to my peers.
When I hear anyone quip a statement that Moses stuttered it only fuels those fears that I am not equipped and how scary and I need and Aaron & blah blah blah. I begin to look for an Aaron forgetting that God only gives a someone else after the person has whined and complained that they were all alone and not ready (Elijah, Gideon, and the like)
But rather, like Moses, I, am very much equipped, I am able in all ways to do the task at hand. and so are you. The Lord does not throw us out without adequate training & equipping. It’s just not His style. We’d call that child abuse if someone did that to their kid. Imagine making your kid mow the lawn when they were 3 feet tall, or drive a car at 10 when they couldn't reach the peddles. Absurd, right? And yet we teach that God does this very thing.
Here's the punch line- you and I saying we are ill equipped is a false humility badge of honor that isn’t humility at all. Humility is knowing Who God is, and that it is stupid to say no to His offers. Humility is humbling yourself to know your place before a holy and perfect and incredible God. Moses was the most humble man ever, he even tells us so. :-) But his reasons for arguing are different than what we've been taught.
When we make a big show of not being good at something but doing it anyway, the focus lands right back on us, not on God. The word you’re looking for is humanism, not humility.
The next time you browse through Exodus 4, remember this man was a military genius, a virtual stud in his day. He was more than able to go, and so are you.