The call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me… I am Moana. This declaration isn’t arrogance. When we understand that we are God’s beloved, uniquely and perfectly made, called to the wildness of his sea, there isn’t much left to do but walk in that knowledge. It changes everything. It empowers us to do what feels absurdly difficult. It allows us to live beyond ourselves for the good of others. It gives birth to joy and peace and love.
Recently, I have been studying through the Old Testament and am enjoying some of the details of the stories of the faith heroes I’ve known about my whole life. In particular, I am noticing the differences in how God interacted with different people. For example, with Joshua God is consistently steady and encouraging – “be strong and courageous!” With Moses, however, God sometimes seems… harsh.
We are human, and to put it simply, we like to be recognized for our efforts and roles. Ironically, we would often much prefer for others to say, “Look at what God did through her” rather simply than “Look at what God did.” I respect these priests who were more interested in who God was and what he did than how they were able to participate. Leaders have to learn to fade back into the background in order to emphasize who is behind any of the successes that we might have. This is truly the most significant thing we can do with our positions.
Yes, after we walk through the fire with God, after we experience a season in the darkness and loneliness of the desert, God eventually reveals Himself again. But no, we will never again encounter the God that we knew before we entered the wilderness because the whole point of the desert experience is to burn away the idol that we made Him into and reveal this wild, unsafe, uncontrollable, awesome God who actually IS. And there is grief in that death that is very, very real.
As I’ve begun sharing what it is that God has placed on my heart with other believers, most of the reaction I’ve received is neutral, “Oh, that’s nice. I’m glad someone is doing something about that.” Some reaction has been sadly negative, “I could never do that.” or worse, “I wouldn’t want to endanger my reputation by being involved with that kind of ministry.” I’ve waffled between joyful hope that God would use me to make a difference in a dirty reality and frustration over the feelings of isolation my pursuit has brought me to.
What is most humbling and beautiful about the training ground of the desert season is that it is designed to take us to a much deeper place of neediness in our relationship with God. We come to realize that we are shortsighted, powerless, and selfish. Against that backdrop, we experience the kindness of Christ that leads us to repentance and holy clingy-ness.
It wasn’t that I wanted to be famous, but it was deeply ingrained in me from childhood to shoot for excellence. Nothing less than the best was worth doing, and all the better if people could see you doing it. I was so scared to not be a valuable asset to God, and at that time, I was pretty sure He needed my help.
It’s not that I am not interested in that any more, or that I think God has no use for me. It’s just that I am lifting my eyes up and realizing that I just want Him. I am way more excited about the fact that He is holding my hand than that my feet are standing where they have no business being.
Moses was not even tempted. Immediately, he argued with God. “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us from here.” This man, who had experienced the radical nearness of God in his life, knew that God’s stuff – His blessings, His protection, His favor – were absolutely worthless compared with God Himself.