Friday, January 18, 2013

Bible Story Confessions


You know the story in the Bible where God talks to Moses in the burning bush?

 You know how when Moses realizes its God talking to him, and after he takes off his shoes, and after he hears what God wants him to do…he asks a question of the burning bush that is actually God?
‘What if the people ask me who sent me?’
And God replies: “’I am’ has sent you.”
Confession: That sentence has always bothered me. It’s not grammatically correct, for one thing. (And yes, I realize that I often write and/or say things that aren’t grammatically sound, but I’m not GOD!)

And imagine when the people actually do ask Moses who sent him. “Oh,” he says uncomfortably, “well, I was talking to this bush that was burning but not being consumed, and the bush said His name is “I am.”” 

‘There you have it, people! A bushed named ‘I am’ said for Moses to come free us…and that name is enough for us. Let’s go, honey. Pack up the slave hut, we’re getting set free!’
Yes, I am being sarcastic…but this statement has long been a source of lip-pursing ire for me. Of all the names of God listed in Scripture, of all the things He could have told Moses to give him comfort and assurance, of all the things He could have passed on to the Israelites to give them comfort and assurance…why these two words that don’t grammatically work in the sentence?
What was He trying to say to His chosen people? What is He trying to say to us?
He was the God of their ancestors.

He was God who gave an old couple a son. 

He wrestled all night with a man. 

He promised them a land of their own and freedom to worship Him.

He saved them from famine when they were a small band of 80 people and led them to a country where they grew into millions. 

He was the God who was getting ready to reign down the most terrible and awesome string of natural disasters ever visited on a single country. 

He was prepping the pillar of cloud and fire. 

He was gearing up to part the Red Sea. 

And more than all that, He was preparing to give the Israelites a very clear picture of His coming Son; His planned redemption from sin. He was about to say to them “Take the blood of the lamb and smear your doorpost with it. And when the angel of death sees the blood covering your door, he will pass by and you will live.” I mean, if I was God, I would be excited about that! The very first REALLY CLEAR picture of the plan to send Jesus was getting ready to take place!!! He could have mentioned that to Moses! Or at least the Red Sea parting thing!
Why ‘I AM?”
I wonder if it is because the Red Sea declaration is so overwhelming? Not that it wouldn’t be amazing to hear God telling me He was about to part it (side note confession: it’s my favorite Old Testament miracle) but I’m not sure I would instantly be calmed by the news of what lay ahead.

“Charity, I’m getting ready to take you from the only place you’ve ever known, and we are going to the Red Sea, which will be parted so you can walk through it.”

Yep…as much as I love that story, if I’m facing something as scary as transplant from the familiar to WHO KNOWS what, the Red Sea thing doesn’t really do it for me in the way of calming me down.
BUT…
I AM WITH YOU.
That helps.
I AM A STRONG TOWER.
Oh yeah, tell me more.
I AM THE GOD OF HEAVEN’S ARMIES.
Now we’re talking.
I AM WITH YOU IN TROUBLE.
I AM PEACE.
I AM HOPE.
I AM LOVE.
I AM PROVISION.
I AM ABLE.
I AM MIGHTY.
I AM HOLY.
I AM HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whew…I’m getting a little teary eyed, and I’m suddenly very grateful that God didn’t have grammar check on Mt. Sinai when He inhabited a burning bush.
Because ‘I AM’ speaks to every single situation any of us will ever face in our lives…ever. Whatever your struggle, whatever my mountain, whatever the questionable, uncertain, unknown thing being faced by any of us…if we ask God where He is in it…His reply starts out…
I AM…
The rest is a journey of choosing to follow Him, of believing Him in the desert when we are afraid, of doubting and then repenting, of whining and then being proved idiots for whining, of trusting, forgetting to trust, being reminded again…and on and on, until we reach the promise land- heaven.
And God, in all of His grammatically incorrect wisdom, knew that the promise of Red Sea partings (and frogs and locusts and blood) wouldn’t be enough to keep His people assured. Even witnessing those miracles wasn’t enough. 

It’s not enough for me sometimes either. I quickly forget that He has done great things for me. In the face of my new challenge, the heroic rescue He performed on the last one fades away.
Because I’m stupid.
Because I’m blind.
Because I’m human.
And because He knew all those things…He said to Moses, and He says to me, the single most important thing He can say…it’s just the START of a sentence, but He fills in the rest with every single beat of His all consuming heart.
I…
AM…


"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life..." John 14:6

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