Friday, March 6, 2009

...flipping ahead...

March 16th the doors will open and the children will race through the doors of our church for a week of Day Camp. Some will be hesitant, some will cling to a parent and many are ready to run (literally) from the minute they get there. They all know that something is going to happen that week but are not sure what that something is. By about three in the afternoon everyone has become acquainted and the place is buzzing with excitement. I can stand on the platform now and ask for volunteers and just about every hand will not only be raised, but children will begin to moan and whine and hold their hand higher, hoping for the chance to be the "chosen one". As I look down at the crowd and call one out I promise you they don't sit down and smile and my gesture, but rather they race to the front of the stage, ready for whatever is coming next. Not an ounce of hesitation is evident, they are completely present in the moment and awaiting your next words. They know that whatever I have for them to do is going to be good.

And then I am humbled.

Humbled at the realization that this is what Jesus is looking for in me. When he calls my name. When He choses me for a job, I know He would love me to race to his side eager to hear His instructions. Attentive to His voice and calling ready to act.

There was a day when I was like that. I was a child then. I embraced the call with everything that was in me and doubts were squashed under my readiness to act. Now, I have grown, and matured, discovered many of my weaknesses. I've realized my list of shortcomings is huge and accepted that I'll never be wise enough, talented enough, educated enough... I've become adept at making excuses and settling for a big pile of mediocrity. Kind of like the man we are going to be learning about at Day Camp.

Meet my buddy Moses.

This guy stood, barefoot, in front of a burning bush, listening to the voice of God and his response was basically, "Sorry God, I'd love to help you out but...well, there's these sheep... and I have a bit of a stutter, so THAT would work would it?... and well, I could recommend my cousin if you're still interested in this whole, letting your people go thing... do you want his number?"

I've been reading about him, preparing for camp and smiling at His foolishness. I confess I have an advantage over him. I can flip the pages of my Bible and read ahead. I know about the plagues, and the passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. I've read about Joshua and the wall of Jericho, of the Promised Land and the fulfillment of all God's promises. I can flip back and read about his sister, Miriam, caring for him in the bulrushes, and his childhood amongst Egyptian royalty. I can see how his whole life had prepared him for this task and I know what God did through Moses.

But, sitting on a hill, all this shepherd could see was the Midian landscape where he had taken up residence. This vista represented his escape from his mistakes and from an identity he wanted to deny. In this field, a world away from the king's palace, Moses had safely curled up amongst the sheep content to live out his days in complacency.

But God could see, and we know God had a plan.

Jeremiah 29:11 promises us that God still has plans. Just like unsuspecting Moses, He has a job for me, for you, for all of us. His desire is that we become like the children in Mark 10 who race to his side, eagerly anticipating what His words, not like Moses hunkered down amongst the sheep making excuses. (As if it was about me in the first place!)

Do you ever wonder what Jesus said as they ran to his lap? What did He see as He looked in their faces? What does He see when He looks in yours? Maybe it's time to climb on up and hear for yourself...

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13-16

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." Exodus 3:4-12 & 4:10-17