I have taken a few flights and I think waiting for the boarding call is one of the most boring experiences I have been through. What is worse is that once we are seated on the plane it seems like we have to wait for another eternity for take off. When I’m heading out on a trip, I just want to get there. There is a sense of adventure and anticipation. I don’t like to wait.
However, I do need to confess that the wait to board the plane is nothing compared to coming back through customs.
Waiting. We don’t like to wait. In fact if I waited in my office and started the service five minutes late you would all be looking at your watches wondering if everything is alright. Wondering why I wasn’t out here. Wondering who would be the first to get up and tell me to come out and get the service started. There might even be a few of you right now who are waiting for me to get to the point.
It can be agonizing can’t it? Waiting.
Who Am I? – Audio Sermon
However, it seems that life is composed of many moments where we are forced to wait. When I was in the Army we called it ‘Hurry up and wait.’ So whether it is at the airport, a stop light, waiting for news from your doctor or for a loved one to come out of surgery. We are forced to wait, to endure in patience and often in silence.
Perhaps one of the difficult aspects of waiting is that we don’t know what is going to happen at the end of our wait. Who will we sit beside on that plane? Will the doctor have good news? Will the surgery be successful? We know what we would like to have happen, but it does not always work out that way.
I often wonder if Moses was waiting for anything to happen. If Moses knew that God would call on him and was just waiting for the day when it would happen.
John Calvin thinks that this is the case, the Moses was waiting in anticipation for the day that God called him. For myself, I am not so sure. Our reading from Exodus this morning certainly does not indicate that Moses was waiting for anything. In fact it says the opposite, it says that Moses was busy going about his business. The business of tending sheep. Probably he was spending that time cursing the day he picked that dagger up and struck the Egyptian, forcing him to flee his life of comfort and ease.
Sound about right? There is Moses, tending sheep and waiting for nothing in particular to happen. For the foreseeable future Moses life was right in front of him. Take care of his father-in-laws sheep, day in, day out. Moses was doing what was required of him to provide for his family. I don’t think Moses was waiting for God to call on him.
And then it happened didn’t it?
God called on Moses and God wasn’t subtle about it. God used nothing less than a burning bush to communicate his call to Moses. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we have a few burning bushes planted around St. Andrew’s. Now if one of those was to burst into flame, I am not sure what I would do. I know what I should do, but let’s be honest when God calls you out in that way it’s pretty intimidating.
God calls to Moses out of the burning bush. In doing so God lays at Moses feet, the mission that Moses is to accomplish. It is time to bring God’s people home from Egypt. And what does Moses say?
Who am I?
Moses doesn’t respond with a ‘Yes God, I’m your man!’
No, Moses says to God, who am I to go and do this task? Who am I to go and talk to Pharaoh?
Who am I?
I’ve asked that question too. Who am I to live out this calling? Who am I to teach God’s word. Sometimes I ask the question out of humility for the responsibility I’ve been called to. Most of the time I ask this question out of disbelief.
Who am I?
Who are you?
Who are we that we can live out God’s promise for creation?
We echo this question of Moses? Generations later we have the same lament, who are we to go out into the world? To challenge authorities, to make change, to make a difference, who are we?
We ask this question looking to be affirmed by God in the task we are being called to, hoping to hear kind words surrounding our gifts, our talents, natural abilities and aptitudes. We long to be praised and affirmed in our calling.
While studying at Knox College at the end of one of our classes we would provide two gifts and one growing edge for a member of the class. We live in a culture that seeks praise.
However, we will find none of that in our passage today. God does not respond to Moses by telling him how gifted he is. Or by saying that the time spent in Pharaoh’s Court will assist you. God says none of these things.
What does God say to Moses?
“I will be with you.”
I will be with you and the sign to prove this is that one day you and the Israelites will worship here in this spot. As promises and assurances go it really isn’t much is it.
I will be with you. It really isn’t much more than a wing and prayer is it?
Yet, it is enough for Moses. Armed with the knowledge that God will be with him. Armed with the name of God, I Am who I Am, Moses heads back to Egypt.
And now Moses begins to wait. As he journeys towards Egypt he needs to await how the Israelites will receive him. He has to wait and see how Pharaoh will receive him.
We don’t like to wait do we friends. It makes us uncomfortable because we do not know what is at the end of that period of waiting. Because there is a sense of expectation to waiting. If we are waiting then it assumes that we believe something is going to happen.
Friends, the question I have for you this morning is this: Are you waiting with expectation for God’s call on your life?
And if you are waiting for that call what do you anticipate that God is going to say to you?
I once preached at a church where they put the sermon title on the sign outside the church along with the preachers name. If you read the sign that day you would have read the following: “And God answered, Neil Ellis.” I posted a picture of that sign on Facebook and a former minister asked me what God said.
‘Not what I expected’ was my reply.
Friends when we wait for news, when we wait on God eventually the period of waiting with end. What I have found with God is that the reply, the answer to my patience has never been exactly what I expected. With God it never is, because we simply are unable to see the plans and designs that God has for our lives and for all of creation. We just don’t see it because most of the times we are like Moses. We are too busy getting on with our lives. We don’t really wait on God with a sense of expectation.
Friends, I want to invite you on a journey. A journey that we will go on together. A journey that will find ourselves waiting for God. Waiting with keen anticipation for God’s call on our lives. As we wait for God’s call, I would invite you to actively pray for how God might use you and this community of faith for God’s purposes.
Friends, are you willing to trust that God will be with you? That when God’s call on your life comes, that God will be with you. That this is enough.
For Moses it was enough that God called him. That God said I will be with you. I pray that is enough for us as well. Amen