Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reflections on The Great I AM

Have you ever gotten a call to do something that seemed completely out of reach? How did you respond? Were you able to quickly act and move forward with confidence, or did you continue to assess the situation and consider all the ways that you couldn’t be the right person for the job?

Welcome to the life of Moses.

He knew from the beginning of his life that he was special. Adopted by the Princess of Egypt and raised in the Pharaohs’ Palace, but also having Jewish roots that were a detriment to rising upward in earthly success. When Moses sought to become the Deliverer of his Jewish people, he failed and ran away to live for 40 years hiding out in a desert herding sheep.

Moses was stunned one day to see a bush burning but not burning up. As he took steps forward, he heard his name spoken, “Moses, Moses.” He said, “Here I am.” Then the voice identified himself: “Don’t come any closer, take off your sandals for you are on holy ground. I Am the God of your ancestors.”

The voice continued with even greater surprise, “You, Moses, are to go and lead my people out of Egypt.”

Moses responded with his own version of I AM by asking the question, “WHO AM I to appear before Pharoah and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”

We find the struggle of all humanity in this exchange.

Moses is standing before the “Great I AM: the God of yesterday, today and forever: the God who created the Universe and who will restore all creation on the final day.” And, as God stands before him in all his glory, all that Moses can see is himself and all he can ask is, “Who am I?”

Like Moses, we struggle to look into the face of God and remember that he is the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt after one divine appointment after another, and he is the God who sent his Son to take us out of slavery.

He is the One who can accomplish the impossible. But, he doesn’t like to act alone: he chooses to work through the people he has created to bring the impossible from heaven to earth.

Our hang-up, however, is where we choose to focus the “I AM.” Is it on ourselves by asking, “Who am i,” by focusing on what we can do in a human realm and making ourselves small.

Our, do we believe the GREAT I AM?

Are we, like Moses, willing to walk towards our burning bush and take off our shoes as we acknowledge that we are in the presence of the GREAT I AM?

Are we, like Martha and Mary, willing to acknowledge that Jesus can heal their brother of four days of death because he is the GREAT I AM?

Are we, like the Apostle John in Revelation, willing to see the GREAT I AM standing on the throne as both the Lamb Sacrificed and the Great King?

Moses eventually stepped into his call to become the One who would proclaim the GREAT I AM to the most powerful man on earth. As he begins to near the end of his life, Moses knows something much different than he knew at the beginning of his call: that unless the GREAT I AM goes with the Israelites, they shouldn’t move forward. He tells God, “Unless you go with us, how will we know that your people and I have found favor with you on earth?” (Exodus 33)

And, the Lord answers him, “I will be with you.” This is the future promise of the GREAT I AM: as the Lord is the SAME yesterday, today and forever.

We, like Moses, can trust God in his character of faithfulness because of his name, “I AM.” He will be with us as he was with Moses, as he was with his Son Jesus, as he was with the apostles as they moved out to form the New Testament Church.

Like Moses, every one of us has an invitation from the GREAT I AM. That invitation is to know him: as the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He wants to show us his character of faithfulness and presence with us. He won’t ever leave us because he is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:5,8).

Like Moses, however, we won’t know the GREAT I AM unless we accept the challenge that he puts in front of us: that is, to live out our divine purpose: the reason for which we were created. It is when we discover our divine purpose and begin to walk in it that we discover that the GREAT I AM is truly who he says he is and he is completely faithful and present with us.

Will you accept the invitation? Will you embrace the challenge? Ask Moses if he is glad he did. The book of Exodus ends with the consecration of the Tabernacle: “The Cloud covered the Tabernacle and the glorious presence of the Lord filled it.” Moses’ work is complete, he fulfilled his call.

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