by Mike Ratliff
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:10-17 ESV)
I did not take “Speech” when I was in High School. Nearly everyone I knew at that time in my school took speech. However, I WOULD NOT. Why? It was for the same reason I would not get up in front of any group of people in church or Sunday School. I was terrified of it. When I went to college I made sure that whatever I majored in did not require any getting up in front of any class to speak. Why was I terrified of it? It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it. It was because I was terrified of being made fun of or laughed at. Based on what? I don’t really know. I think it sprung from when I was very little and I could not stand for anyone to laugh at me which happened quite a bit when my aunts and uncles would get together with our family. I was not very big for my age. I had pure white hair and a dark complexion. My aunts thought I was cute and my uncles thought I was shy because I shrunk from their comments about my appearance or anything about me personally.
Now, within what is this “shyness” based? Isn’t it pride? Wasn’t my shyness and fear of being laughed at simply pride trying to make sure that I was protected from that? When I was in the Navy I worked at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Arlington Virginia. I was a Data Processing Technician and part of my job was to go around to each department getting input documents they filled out so they could process personnel records on our mainframe. I started in data input like everyone else who were D.P.s However, after just a few months I was promoted out of their because of my high accuracy rate and the fact that I had made E4. I was put in Quality Control. There I was second highest in rank, but dead last in experience. Part of the the job of the E4 who was over me was to do a quarterly talk to new arrivals to our installation as part of their orientation. After I had been in Quality Control for a few months the E4 over me was discharged because her enlistment was up. That put me in charge of eight other people who all had a lot more experience than I did. But what I totally detested about that little promotion was that I inherited the task of giving that quarterly orientation talk.
I detested it so much that I applied for transfer to some other post or department or ship or anywhere just so I wouldn’t have to give that talk. As it turned out, there was an opening in the Computer Operations staff and since I was the highest ranking person in my department I had first shot at it. Whew! No more speaking in front of people!
A funny thing happened when God saved me about ten years after that. That fear of getting in front of people to speak vanished. It not only vanished, I relished doing it. I found that God had given me the gift of teaching. I love it. Probably the only thing I like as well as teaching in front of a group of people is writing.
In yesterday’s post we looked at how we must respond to everyone with gentleness based entirely within our helplessness in doing God’s will outside of His grace. We must combine that with the understanding that we not only obey God by His grace, we speak, teach, witness, and serve before Him fully understanding that we much approach all of that in utter helplessness, fully relying on God to put the words in our mouths. Unfortunately, many preachers and teachers and leaders not only don’t do this, they have reached a level of spiritual blindness where they do their “speaking” jobs perfunctorily. They have become so skilled at doing it that it is automatic for them. They don’t seek God’s face in what they do because they don’t need Him anymore. These are the ones open to subtle deceptions that end up compromising their ministries with the secular.
If we look at the ministries of any Biblical person outside of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will see that their failures were always brought about by them perfunctorily approaching their ministries or walk. When they took God for granted, thinking that they could do their “job” without God, God always allowed them to fall flat on their faces in one way or another.
It is when we, like Moses at the beginning of his ministry, are totally helpless to serve God unless He leads and empowers that we are truly where God wants us, doing what God wants us to do. We must not cower and become paralyzed though. We must obey Him, but in His power, not ours. We must remember that in our bold brokenness God will put His words in our mouths and it will be for His glory alone.
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