Exodus Chapter 4:10-12 Moses however said to the Lord, “If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf an dumb? Or who gives sight to one and makes another blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Go then, it is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say.”
Millions of us have seen Cecil B.DeMille’s movie, “The Ten Commandments”?. Who can forget Charlton Heston who portrayed Moses telling the Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”? Those powerful words were eventually fulfilled; the Pharaoh did let the people go. There are many parts of the film which still bring tears to my eyes – the child Moses being set adrift in the river Nile, the first Passover as the Jews ate their last meal in Egypt while dressed for travel, the carrying of the body of Joseph with the Israelites to freedom to fulfill an ancient promise, the parting of the Red Sea and the death of Moses. The story of Moses and the people of God leaving Egypt is a long and interesting adventure full of danger and promise at every turn. The story begins in Exodus, Chapter 2 with the birth of Moses. Be sure to read all the way to the end of Exodus to grasp what I am saying. The story of Israel continues even beyond Exodus, and one could argue that the story continues today for the people, Jews and Christians alike, God chose as His very own.
When I first read those two verses in chapter 4:10-12, it was the beginning of my own exodus from a self imposed slavery to a way of freedom. Just as with Moses and the Israelites, my exodus from slavery took a very long time. I am still traveling on that journey.
I grew up in a close knit Italian-American family in the middle of the last century. I had a wonderful, interesting and love filled childhood. I learned to never stand out, never to draw attention to myself. That behavior came from my innate shyness and not from how I was raised. I would seldom argue with anyone or try to convince anyone of the correctness of my opinions and consequently I had little to say. I would always try to let the other person win an argument, even when I believed that I was correct.
One day in my early thirties I faced a major emotional crisis: I despised myself, because I couldn’t communicate clearly with close friends and family. I felt worthless and without value. A class was being offered at my parish church to help women, like myself, to “find ourselves”. It is a silly way of expressing that many women like me needed to recognize their self worth and use the confidence they gained in the class to live their lives more fully. I signed up for the class, hoping that help could be found there. During one of the sessions the other students and I were given a homework assignment. We were told to read three specific Bible passages; in one of the passages, the instructor promised, there would be a personal message from God. Sure, you might say, how could that be? But it was true.
Two of the Bible passages we were assigned were from the New Testament, though I do not remember which ones they were. The third passage was from Exodus beginning in Chapter 3 when Moses sees the burning bush and has a conversation with God. I read the two New Testament passages, but I didn’t find the personal message from God in those passages and that worried me. Could it be that God had nothing to say to me, that I was as useless as I felt? It was when I read the passage from Exodus and began reading the part from Chapter 4, (italicized above) that “the dam broke”. I began to sob and continued to do so for quite some time. What I heard God saying to me in those few words of Scripture was that I wasn’t broken or defective as I had come to believe that I was. Just as He had given to Moses, God had given me all the gifts I would need to do the lifelong task He created me to do. I was to trust Him and to follow Him just as Moses had done. And so I began the daily walk with God that was to change my life.
I have learned much during the many years since that life changing event. I am still not overly confident in my ability to express myself orally and sometimes shy away from arguments with others. I will engage in an argument when necessary, but I don’t seek them out. I have discovered that I am usually able to write clearly, to express myself more competently in the written word than in the spoken word, although that took some time to develop. I have begun to see that God did equip me to do the task He created me to do. As the Bible says in Psalm 139, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. And so, I think, are we all.