But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
I love this line. The audacity he had—a pile of clay talking to the potter with such confidence. God could have flattened him and started over right there. Splat goes the clay. God did get angry, but the conversation continued.
It’s also quite an extraordinary line because we have the benefit of looking back over Moses’s life. We know that he did go to Egypt and perform, with Aaron, astounding miracles. The miracles continued in the desert and on the mountain top when God took him home. This same Moses came back to earth for a conversation with Jesus—thousands of years later—with Elijah, no less. And then there is the speculation that he will appear on earth again during the tribulation as a witness, convincing Jews to turn to Jesus.
And he had the nerve to say to God, “Pardon me, Lord, please send someone else.”
Okay, I confess. I’ve said that, too. I want to hasten to tell you that I’ve also said, “Send me.” But that’s only because of the Holy Spirit in me, leading me. God has this extraordinary capacity to send the most unprepared (or so they believe) people.
I was in my twenties when I went through a season where Scripture burned in my spirit as I read the prophets and saw their zeal and the sacrifices they made. I was ashamed as I read how the people turned from God throughout the Old Testament. Hadn’t I done the same in my late teens and early twenties? Oh yes, I had. But now, like Isaiah with the burning coals on his lips, being purified by God, set apart, I felt that I was being called to go where God needed me.
So what happened? It’s not so pretty in the details. The first time I remember being “sent” had to do with my oldest daughter’s first year of school. I was deeply upset by what I saw in her class. Then this strange idea of homeschooling began to look more and more like a viable option. But that would mean a huge commitment on my part. “God, you know my patience levels, how some days it’s such a struggle! Is this really what you’re sending me to do? Here? At home?” After much prayer and discussion, I did homeschool for a year, and then, exhausted, found a Christian school and enrolled my kids there. I wondered if I’d failed, perhaps, in not homeschooling longer. I wasn’t sure what the purpose was, but it had been quite an experience, that was for sure.
Two years later, my husband’s job changed drastically, and we decided to apply for a transfer within the company. An adventure! (We were young!) We committed to a move, off the East Coast, only to find the elementary school board there in the midst of a dilemma. A teacher had allowed her boyfriend in at recess to sell drugs to the little children. Half the board voted to fire the teacher while the other half disagreed, as she hadn’t sold the children drugs, her boyfriend had. We were stunned.
Good thing I knew how to homeschool. It went much smoother this time, and I enjoyed it immensely. And we were surprised when the local paper heard we homeschooled, and they came to our home and interviewed us for a piece they were doing on the trend. It turned out to be a great opportunity to witness.
Not long after that, our youngest daughter’s appendix burst, and she almost died from being misdiagnosed for several days. I had my “Abraham moment” when I felt that God was calling me to let go of her and entrust her life completely to him. I wrestled long and hard with that one. When I finally surrendered her, the turning point came. She and I traveled by ambulance to The Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Doctors operated and discovered that, miraculously, her body’s natural layer of fat had sealed off the rupture and prevented the poison from spreading. We stayed for ten more days so she could heal. There, a roommate’s father saw me reading my Bible and felt compelled to ask my input on a powerful group of politicians and wealthy men who were trying to get him to join their club. The club had strong ties to the Unification Church. A Christian businessman, he felt uneasy about some of their beliefs but strongly attracted to the power and influence he could have as a part of this group. The truth seemed plain to me. In honoring God by choosing to remain faithful and true to Jesus Christ, God would guide him to the circumstances He had planned for him, circumstances more meaningful to the kingdom of God than any false ideas of these men. This struck home with him. He wept in repentance at how easily he had lost sight of God and turned to the accolades and acceptance of men.
I could go on with more examples of how God sent me into conversations and circumstances I never would have imagined. It’s exhilarating at times. It’s beautiful. It gives joy and that peace that passes understanding. But initially, these moments are surrounded by a lot of pain and uncertainty. They call for bravery and faith, and those are not always my first reactions.
The truth is, I’ve had my share of “Moses moments.” Still do. In fact, I’m older now, and when it occurs to me that God is nudging me or perhaps sending me to do something, I’m better able to see the problems ahead. No wonder the eighty-year-old Moses said, “Please send someone else.” I’ll bet he clearly realized his own weaknesses and the size of the job at hand. He probably understood Pharaoh’s hard heart and the immense needs of the Israelites. He was old enough to know better. Kind of like I’m getting. And that’s a problem.
I want to think that the older I get, with all the benefit of looking back at the miracles, with all the faith that comes from affirmation, it will keep getting easier and easier to say, “Send me.” But what if, the older one gets, the harder it is to keep saying, “Send me”? I look ahead not too far down the road to see what others are experiencing as they retire, as health issues mount, as loss accumulates, as life becomes much more precarious and uncertain. A simple fall could mean broken bones; an illness could be the end; moving doesn’t mean an adventure, sometimes it means losing a familiar home and going into assisted living. Does “send me” still apply?
Can I retract that when I reach a certain age? Faced with frailty, vulnerable, and with my world shrinking, would God still ask me to have open hands and open heart that say, “Send me”? When my body is useless and my mind is getting weaker every day, will it still apply? Or strike that and reverse it: what if my mind is useless and my body is getting weaker every day? Will “send me” still apply then?
Back in the 1960s, a beautiful, godly woman attended this church. She wore the most gorgeous hats, large ones so big you had to keep several feet away to avoid bumping the brims. She would always bend and smile at me and say a kind word. I was in awe of her. Years later, I visited her in the nursing home. She had lost everything in life, including her ability to move about. “I don’t know why God has me linger,” she said fretfully, looking around her at all the helpless people. “I can’t do anything anymore.” She paused. “But I pray. That’s all I can do now. Pray for people. Everyone I can think of.” I left that day, still in awe of her, inspired. She didn’t understand her circumstances, but she accepted them and did what she could. What a ministry she had. Her reward was yet to come. I wish I’d encouraged her more about that.
Moses never said, “Yes, Lord.” But he did go and do what he was told. He didn’t walk away from God; he walked toward him. That’s key in being sent. Wherever it is, it’s always closer to God.
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries