Moses has one of the most well-known stories in the Bible, and when we talk about what some of his shortcomings might have been, we talk about how reluctant he was to speak for God at all. I think most of us can relate to that a little bit. But I think Moses had another weakness, another hesitation, that is even more common to us than this, something that I think almost all of us can identify with.
Moses wasn't sure the world would take him - or his God - seriously.
Early in Moses's story, as the Lord is calling him to go and speak, Moses asks a few questions. The first one has to do with what he's supposed to say to Pharaoh about who God is, about who this God is who sent him. In response, God gives Moses three signs - his staff becomes a snake, his hands become leprous, and water becomes blood. Surely, these things are enough to convince even the hardest-hearted Pharaoh of the power of the God who sent this meager man to speak.
But then, tucked quietly away in a small little verse, Moses asks the question he really wants to ask - what if Your people, God, don't believe that You sent me?
What if the people You are trying to save, God, don't want to listen to me? What if they think I'm a quack job? What if they think I'm making it up or that I don't know You the way they know You? What if they discount everything I'm trying to do for them because they don't believe it's Your plan? What then?
This is a question not just for Moses, but for many of us. We have the same hesitation, the same fear. We know what God is asking us to do; it's pretty clear. We understand the assignment, as the kids today would say. But we're not sure we could explain it.
We're not sure we could get the world, or even the church, to understand what we're trying to do. We're not sure we could convince anyone else to get on board with it. Or at the very least, to not make fun of us or try to discourage us from what we're doing. We're not sure, at the end of the day, that anyone will believe this was God's plan and not ours.
Sometimes, it's because they don't understand God the way that we do....or they think we don't understand God the way that they do. Sometimes, it's because of our personality and our own history, our own story, that others might be familiar with (or think they are familiar with). It might fit really well into someone else's preconceived notion of us to think we've come up with this all on our own.
Remember - Moses was a Hebrew by birth, but he was raised as an Egyptian. He's a murderer, and he has a history of putting himself in the middle of things. That's how he ended up running away and being in the wilderness where that bush was not burning up in the first place. It would be really easy for Israel to think that this was just something else Moses was stirring up, some more trouble he was looking to cause.
Not to mention, they've been slaves for four hundred years. There may not be many left among them who still believe God even cares about them, let alone that He will set them free.
Moses, likely understanding all of this (and perhaps even more, based on his own personal life experience), reveals his biggest hesitation to God, and it's not that Pharaoh might not listen.
It's that his own people, the people of God, might not believe.
Isn't that something we wrestle with, too?