One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.” (Exodus 3:1-4 NLT)
Moses’ first forty years were spent in Egypt where he was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. It is evident from Exodus, chapter two, that Moses was aware of his adoption as well as his Hebrew heritage. We read that Moses commits murder after he witnesses an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. He fears the Pharaoh and Egyptian justice and flees into the Arabian Desert. For the next forty years Moses lives as a shepherd in the land of Midian. He marries Zipporah and raises a family.
We are not given a lot of details concerning Moses’ life between his flight from Egypt and his encounter with the Lord on Mount Sinai. Moses was 80 years old when God appeared to him in the burning bush on Mount Sinai, calling him into the ministry. God reveals His plan for Moses, declaring that he will use Moses to deliver the Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage. He declares that Moses will lead His people to the Promised Land, fulfilling the covenant that the Lord had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Forty years is a long time. A lot of life goes by in forty years. A generation grows and begets the next generation in forty years. Forty years ago it was 1972. That is the amount of time that passed from Moses’ flight from Egypt to God calling Him to return to Egypt. Think about how much the world has changed in the last 40 years. Think about how much Egypt had changed during the 40 years that Moses had been in Midian.
Think about this when you read through Exodus, chapter three. Moses started off his day as a shepherd, something he had been for forty years. He saw something mysterious and went to investigate. Moments later he had his shoes off, standing on holy ground, receiving a divine commission. What a day that must have been!
Moses was hesitant to answer the call of God. I can think of several reasons that would have run through my head.
- God, I believe I am still wanted for murder there
- God, I am 80 years old and haven’t seen my people in 40 years.
- God, when I did live in Egypt I lived with the Egyptians as part of Pharoah’s house – I am not their favorite person.
Moses puts up a few of his own objections to the Lord:
- What if they ask me your name God? Who should I tell them sent me? (Exodus 3:13-15)
- What if they don’t believe me? (Exodus 4:1-2)
- God, I am not a good speaker? (Exodus 4:10-12)
- God, please send someone else, anyone else. (Exodus 4:13)
Moses is not the only person in history to resist the call and commission of the Lord upon their lives. There are many, many people throughout scripture and through history that have been hesitant to step out in faith answering the call of God.
Moses was told to go back to a nation (the most powerful nation on earth at the time) and tell their Pharaoh (a man who was worshipped as a living god) that the one true God has commanded him to let His people go.
I do not want to demean any ministry in the body of Christ (every person is called to a unique and vital role in the body of Christ) but let’s put this into proper perspective. This was not a call to the pastor of the local “First Church”, nor was it a call to serve as an usher or choir member. Moses was commissioned to bring deliverance to a nation of slaves from the hand of their oppressors. He was told that he would need miraculous signs and that there would be resistance to his message. God specifically told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:21). Judgment was coming upon Egypt prior to deliverance coming from Egypt.
This was a call that would have come to a swift and deadly conclusion (specifically for Moses) without the manifestation of God’s power in Moses’ ministry. This is one of those historical accounts that are amazing to read but it had to be very challenging to live. We have the benefit of knowing the outcome – Moses only had the promise of God (which should always be enough).
So, I can understand some of Moses’ reluctance to answer the call. It was an awesome task that God set before Moses. This task would be impossible without the direct manifestation of the power of God. However, God did not ask Moses to manifest miracle-working power, He asked Moses to go. It reminds me of a line from the Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien where Gimli says, “Certainty of death, small chance of success… What are we waiting for?“ This is why it is vital for all believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What is impossible in our own strength becomes possible through Him.
Sometimes God’s call on our life leads us away from our comfort zone into new territory where our dependence on Him has to increase.
It may seem “risky” to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit but we must realize that God will never call us to a life in which He is unnecessary. You will never be able to accomplish God’s plan or mission for your life in your own strength.
“We live by faith, not sight.” is not a slogan, it is a fact for every Christian.
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NLT)
The answer to the call of God in our lives has to built upon the secure foundations of faith, hope and love. We have faith that the God who has called us will be with us; leading, guiding and directing our path. We have hope for the change that God will use our lives to make; affecting the lives of the people we are called to for His Name and His Kingdom. We have love for God and we have love for His people. It is these three that must drive us forward in faithful obedience to the call of God upon our lives.
So…If you are going to answer the call of God upon your life you can rest assured that He has great things in store for you but you can also rest assured that you are incapable of fulfilling that calling in your own strength.
I titled this message “Risky Faith” because each of us is required to follow in the footsteps of faith like the Apostle Peter. We have to be willing to take the risk, get out of our boat and walk with Jesus on the water.
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
“Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:28-31 NLT)
As you continue to grow in your relationship with Christ you will reach seasons when you feel the Lord calling you into a specific area of service. Many times this call you feel will require significant changes in your life, putting your familiar territory or comfort zone at risk. I am writing this to encourage you to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
It is always worth taking the risk to get out of the boat. Only one apostle had the testimony of walking on the water. The others could only recount the story of Peter’s bold faith.
Just like Peter your first attempt at getting out of the boat may not be as successful as you would like it to be. The Lord rescued Peter while he walked on the water (let that sink in for a second). When you are willing to get out of the boat you will find that there is risk. You will find that there are waves and wind. You will find that there are scary things. However, you will find that Jesus Christ is walking right beside you, ready to keep you from sinking.
The more often you are willing to step out in faith and follow the leading of the Spirit the more often you will encounter the supernatural provision of God in and through your life.
Take the risk of faith and trust the Lord with your life. You have placed your eternity in His hands. God can be trusted with your career. God can be trusted with your family. God can be trusted with your finances. God can be trusted with your ministry.
You will never experience what God is calling you to until you are ready to answer the call of what God is calling you from.