2018-01-03 / Religion Column

When God calls us to do what we need to do

Cong. M’kor Shalom

Parashat Shemot
Ex. 1:1-6:1

The Talmud teaches us that we should keep two pieces of paper in our pockets. On one we should write, “For my sake was the world created.” And on the second we should write, “I am but dust and ashes.” And, depending on the circumstances and how we are feeling about ourselves, we should take each paper out as necessary.

When God calls to Moses from the burning bush, God is calling upon Moses to do something he not only doesn’t want to do, but doesn’t feel he is able to do—approach Pharaoh and demand the release of the Hebrew slaves. Moses turns down God’s call no less than five times, with a different reason each time as to why he’s not the right person for the job.

Much has been written about Moses’ humility, and how that made him the right person to take on the mantle of leadership. In fact, nearly every great prophet in the Bible resists God’s call initially— some even try to run away from what they have been called to do.

But we know they cannot, ultimately, outrun God or escape their destiny. And yet, in our own lives, many of us try to do it all the time. At times, we feel called to do something big, something meaningful, and yet don’t feel qualified enough to do it. At times, we count ourselves out of the game before we even start because we’re afraid we aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough. At times, we second-guess our ability and can’t seem to stop the nagging question in our mind that asks, “Who am I, that I think I can actually do this?” And how many times have we looked around for someone else to do it instead?

It’s said that “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

Moses was perfectly happy spending his days as a shepherd, and couldn’t fathom being able to do what God (or what the voice speaking in the deepest part of his soul) kept pushing him towards. But when God calls, God also promises—and God’s promise to Moses was that He would be with Moses at each step along the way. Moses had within him everything he needed to lead, and what he didn’t have, God would make sure that there would be other people along the way who did.

I imagine many of us have experienced the same in our own lives—times when we were brave enough to listen and respond to the call of our hearts, and how we just seemed to encounter the right people at the right time along our journey.

It certainly doesn’t mean it’s always easy, or even that it always works out; but somewhere along the way we learn, as Moses did, that what we feel we must do in our lives is ultimately not a goal to be achieved, but a gift to be recognized and utilized.

For Moses is each one of us who has ever faced what seemed like an insurmountable challenge, an intensely powerful fear, or a sense of inadequacy. And Moses is every one of us who, when push came to shove, found our footing in the sand, stood before the burning bush, heard the call, knew what we needed to do, and, with a sense of faith (or simply because there was no other option), put one foot in front of the other and moved forward to do, to give, what the world, at that moment, needed from us. 

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