Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mustard Stains and Stuttering Speech

One mustard stain can ruin everything.  It doesn’t really matter that 99.4% of my shirt is clean.  It’s that .6% of mustard stain (or maybe 15% pending on how I tackled that sandwich) that my eyes immediately go to. 

We are like that aren’t we?  Some more than others.  We tend to focus on the blemishes.  Blemishes have a tendency to register a pretty hefty on the “am I cool or not” scale.  Enough blemishes (whether perceived or real) and you won’t feel adequate even if you have a staff that turns into a snake or a hand that can change from leprosy to healed quicker than a Hollywood “marriage”. 

In Exodus 4 an insecure Moses tells the LORD that he is afraid the people will not listen to him.  To help Moses God empowers his staff to turn into a serpent and back again.  If that doesn’t do the trick then he will do his sweet leprosy-hands trick.  If even then they do not listen God assures him that this third thing will certainly garner their confidence…he will turn water from the Nile into blood. 

To this Moses responds:
“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 tongue.” 
Seriously, Moses?  You have a staff that can turn into a snake and you are afraid people will laugh at your lisp? 

But maybe Moses is on to something.  I mean what do you remember about Mike Tyson?  Of course you remember that he was a beast in the ring, he bit a guys ear, he did time in prison, etc.  But you also remember his voice don’t you?  It kind of made it hard to take him all that seriously because no matter how hard he could punch his voice didn’t match the muscle and we couldn’t take him serious.

His Grace is Sufficient

So, why then doesn’t God change Moses’ speech?  That seems to be something that Moses is sort of asking when he says, “or since you have spoken to your servant”.  It seems as if Moses is saying, “heal my tongue and I’m all yours”. “Cure my blemish, God, and I’ll jaunt into Pharaoh’s house right now and tell him what’s up”. 

But that is not what God does is it?  Instead he says, “I’ll be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak”. 

Fast forward a few millenniums to the apostle Paul, who has a thorn in the flesh.  We have really no idea what this thorn is other than that it was a “messenger of Satan sent to torment”.  This is Paul’s “blemish”.  He, like Moses, pleaded with God to take it away.  And just like with Moses, God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 

What does this mean for you and I?  It means that God probably is not going to fix all of our weaknesses or cure all of our blemishes.  It also means that He doesn’t need to.  Our life is about magnifying the Lord—His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.  So, may we like Paul
“boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
In other words God loves, uses, and magnifies himself in the midst of mustard stains—no matter how many or how large.  His grace truly is sufficient. 

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