Moses – Who Am I?

Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

We pray the Lord’s Prayer every week, but how many of us really stop and mean this part?

Because when God finally calls, many of us are too busy, too tired, or simply too inadequate. We’ve got 102 reasons why we can’t do what He wants us to do. We think we’re too impure. ‘But God, I haven’t sorted that thing out in my life yet.’ ‘Are You sure?’ ‘How can You possibly want me to do this, when there are 1001 problems that are still hanging?’ I’m. just. not. ready.

Then again, do you think we will ever be completely ready?

There is suddenly an identity crisis and an inadequacy issue: I don’t think I can do it. What will people think of me?

However, it is encouraging to know that the Bible is sufficient to prepare us and teach us in His way, especially through people in the Bible who were called for His purpose.

Moses has always intrigued me. The movie ‘Prince of Egypt’ made it fun and exciting, but it never revealed the darkness, loneliness and isolation that Moses felt.

From birth, Moses was wanted dead. His only saving grace was that he floated on a river and was taken pity on by an Egyptian princess. He was Jewish yet taught in the ways of an Egyptian. He had no right to be there, and yet by some seeming stroke of luck, he was. And there must have been rumours in Egypt about him: Filth dressed in gold, A slave served by slaves.

In his youth, he was branded a murderer. He killed in what he thought was the name of justice, but was repaid by spite and anger. And when he fled Egypt, he became a foreigner in a foreign tribe. In fact, the Midianites were a normadic tribe, and were notorious in the Bible (Numbers 22) for being idolators and Jewish oppressors. They plundered and stole. Moses was an outcast, living among enemies of his ancestors. He didn’t have an identity in himself or society.

So when he met God at the burning bush, Moses’ first words were ‘Who am I‘. That was the truth. Moses didn’t know who he was in anybodies eyes. He felt insecure, inadequate and forgotten.

Yet, the Lord replied ‘I will be with you‘. Sometimes, it doesn’t actually feel like God was answering Moses’ question. The question of ‘Who am I’ was answered with ‘I will be with you’. But you see, God sees Moses. God looks at Moses and says ‘I have seen you. You are not nothing. And you will not be nothing because I will be with You every step of the way.’

In this way, I believe that we need not be hesitant or afraid when God calls us to do His will. In fact, if Moses could listen to God’s calling to go against an Egyptian king, I’m sure we can put our faith in God’s calling for us.

And we need not sort everything out before we do God’s will. In Exodus 4:1-5, God uses Moses’ staff and cloak to perform miracles. God can use what you already have to do His will. He’s not going to appoint you because of what you will have in the future, but because of what you have right now.

In fact, I was very much encouraged by my devotion book, which stated that ‘God’s will is spiritually age-appropriate‘. He will not call you to do something He knows you cannot handle. He knows what you are capable of, and therefore has set the task before you.

And yet, God’s presentation to Moses as a burning bush carries so much weight. With God’s touch and presence, He turned an ordinary bush in the desert, into one burning with holy fire. He made ordinary into extraordinary. He made natural into supernatural. And that’s how He can use you and me, so let’s be that bush ready to burn for God!

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Silence: Cowardice Or Wisdom?

Today, I met with my cousins for tea, and the conversation soon took a turn towards the spiritual scene of religion. They were all non-Christians and one of them started commenting about how ‘People get touched in the forehead and suddenly speak in tongues. They probably fake it cos everyone around them are doing it’.

I was stumped. I sat there, frozen with a stiff, faint smile.  And I thought ‘What do I say? What do I do?’

Another cousin ‘Ya… My parents come back from the Buddhist temple and I hear stories about how they do similar things like that.’ 

When I got back home, I shared this with my mother and she asked ‘Why didn’t you defend your faith and beliefs?’

So I stood there and reflected. There were many thoughts running through my mind? Did my silence indicate fear? Was I supposed to defend my faith in every situation and every argument? I analysed the situation that I had been faced with earlier on that day – I was a Christian surrounded by non-Christians, a few of whom had Tibetan Buddhist parents who claimed that they underwent similar spiritual experiences. Was I supposed to assert the truth of Christianity and reveal the falseness and darkness of another religion? Was it the right time and place? 

To answer these questions, I was brought back to the time when a lawyer (and pastor) in a law firm talked Gideon of the bible:

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

At first glance, it looked like Gideon was a coward. God commanded Gideon to destroy his father’s statue of Baal. Although He knew that the Lord was with him, he chose to tear it down in the middle of the night when no one was watching.

Yet, was that really cowardice? In analysing the situation that Gideon was in, it would have been very dangerous to tear the altar down in broad daylight. This was his own father’s altar. His father’s heart was not ready. His tribe was not ready. Gideon was young. Was it really safe for him to do so in broad daylight? 

The lawyer offered another perspective – wisdom.

Sometimes, being wise means that you do not do the things that the world values as courage. Wisdom does not mean you doggedly and blindly go running into the areas of contention, darkness and sin in the name of Christianity and evangelism. Running straight to the streets and holding placards about God and judgment is seldom wise or courageous. Frequently participating in an LGBT debate is also not wise. And sometimes, sharing the gospel with a colleague at the wrong place and wrong time is not a wise thing do to either. 

When you do things that you think is brave, but have no conviction or calling to do, you cannot call it bravery or valiance. Impulse without preparation or calling is not courage.

Therefore, I urge us to remind ourselves that it is not necessary to enter ourselves into every controversial debate and issue. Indeed, the world is becoming more confusing, and the world is moving away from Christian values and steering towards limitless liberalism, and it seems like we can only be good Christians by defending our faith all the time. However, our input may sometimes aggravate the tense atmosphere, hardening more hearts and debasing our less-than-prepared arguments, especially when we have not clearly been led by God to do those things. 

 

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27

One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. Proverbs 14:16

 

Falling In Love With Myself?

While making through my usual round of Tumblr sites (because Tumblr is the escape from the real world and is the only place where cheesy quotes and pale pastel pictures make you cool), I saw this – 

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I stopped scrolling. And I sat there. My first thought was: “There’s no way I can love myself!

I am selfish. cynical. judgmental. critical. hypocritical. self-critical. temperamental. fragile. sensitive. self-conscious. I never forget. demanding. frustrated. insecure. 

I am ugly. I am dark and I am human.” 

 

Then I looked up: ‘I cannot save myself, and no religion can save me. Rules may break me but they will never save me. But a relationship that exudes selfless love and sacrifice, a love that is correcting yet gentle, and a being who can look on me with love and say ‘Grace’ – that is something that can save me. And when I turn to Him and choose to make Him Saviour of my life and Lord of my heart, He can show me that I can love. Love is the greatest capacity of a human, and it is through love I can see what I was made for, and who I was made after. It is the greatest gift and the most powerful weapon.’

In loving Him, I can love myself.

Seventeen Says What?

Today, I was flipping through my old stack of Seventeen magazines (which I of course have stopped buying because I am no longer seventeen…) and I reached the ‘Love’ section…

Eventually, I flipped to all the ‘love’ sections in all my Seventeen magazines and analysed them. I began to realise that many teen magazines created an inconsistent and false image of boys and fantasy of a perfect relationship where the boyfriend drooled over the girlfriend and the girlfriend did whatever she wanted. 

1. Inconsistency and Illogicality 

One edition included an advice section on whether to zip or spill a secret when in a relationship. Apparently, we girls were supposed to ‘ZIP IT!’ if we were seeing other guys! Because we supposedly have the liberty to keep it to ourselves ‘while the relationship is casual’. I did not and do not understand this – why would a relationship be casual? Is not dating one of exclusivity and honesty? If not, what is the point of dating? – So that we can selfishly take all and give nothing back? – Ironically, teenage girls reading Seventeen were supposed to ‘SPILL IT!’ if they once dated their boyfriend’s friend, but ‘ZIP IT!’ if they were currently dated other/more than one person. 

Shortly after, another edition included a whole page on how cheating would break a guy’s heart and cut him deep. 

2. Conformity To Absurd Rules?! 

All teenage magazines encourage girls to ‘be yourself’, ‘go against the grain’, ‘ let haters back off’. Yet, it readily defined what dating moves were ‘sexy or snoozy’. Sorry, did I hear that right? Apparently, sharing an ice cream was not ‘flirty’ enough than sharing a sundae, and wear ballet flats instead of running shoes was not a strong enough indication that you were into a guy. 

Also, the analysis and explanation of hookup behaviours was something that magazine editors could tell clueless 15 year olds, because 1. they were assumedly hooking up by that age and 2. they could read a guy’s mind and tell you that he was ‘really into you’ or ‘on the fence’.

I like Seventeen and other teenage magazines for their fashion, makeup tips and interviews with various celebrities. But the one thing I could never understand was the advice on dating and relationships. It seemed bizarre and silly to have considered them seriously and it was not surprising that I instinctively skipped those sections when I bought a new magazine edition.

However, I know that many girls out there are still absorbing these ‘love’ sections into their systems. ‘Wait a day or two before you reply him.’ These are not the rules to adhere by. By following these ‘rules’ (besides, who ever made them up?), you are restricting yourself and your own personality. So much for trying to be yourself. Honestly, they are childish and unrealistic depictions of what a relationship should be and how many teenage boys think. 

More importantly, I think it is very dangerous. Teenagers are at that age where they believe that their peers and teenage fashion magazines have a lot more credibility than their parents and teachers, some teenagers more so than others. These sections, the love advice and the pictures that accompany these writings, they fuel a wild imagination and expectation of what their non-existent-but-soon-to-come-true dating life should be. It creates a dogged belief that this is the norm and therefore, it is right (the appeal to popularity fallacy). 

In fact, this applies to everything we watch and read. What we see is ultimately etched into our minds and engraved in our hearts, and it plays a significant role in our actions and thoughts through the application of these ideas.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

What happened to these? 

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