“You will be one of those people.” She looked at me with serious eyes.
I laughed out loud. “What are you talking about?”
“No, really,” she re-iterated. “I think one day you will be one of the people on that stage.” She motioned for me to come and stand at the foot of the black platform where heroes of the faith stepped up to the microphone. We were at the MOPS International Convention (Mothers of Preschoolers), and this event brought in the best modern voices on parenting, marriage, life, and spirituality.
I couldn’t breathe. How did she know that very dream to speak about home and family had been planted in my heart that weekend? How could she see into the hidden places where I could sense that God was setting me on a course?
I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge that the dream could be real or divine.
First, there was NO WAY God would pick me to do that. Second, I wasn’t equipped. Those women who were on the stage? They were professionals. Experienced. Writers. People full of wisdom and grace. Set apart. I was none of those things. I was a young stay-at-home mom who spent her days trying to teach basic skills (like potty training) and keep people safe from choking on Legos or getting electrocuted by a light socket. It was more than a small stretch to believe that God could take me from that mom to the speaker in the beautiful, glossy program.
I tucked that encounter and that dream away and flew home to my regular life…for ten years. It was a decade before I would see that dream begin to burst out of the soil. God filled my days with children who needed to be taught, bathed, loved, and disciplined, and filled my heart and mind with a desire to know Him more fully. I felt my roots growing into the deep places, and sensed that God was settling some important matters in my soul. Parenting was the hardest, most humbling job I’d ever had. It took every ounce of strength and all of my energy.
Before Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he was sent to the land of Midian for 40 years to tend sheep. Moses was eighty years old before he was released from animal tending to go fulfill his ultimate and final call. Let me repeat that: eighty years old. Joseph was sold as a slave at seventeen and served in Potiphar’s house for thirteen years before he was let out of prison and became the Pharaoh’s second in command. Sarah was ninety years old before she had Isaac.
In scripture we often see people waiting – seemingly forgotten. Moses watching over his animals, day in and day out – nothing exciting or noteworthy. Joseph, falsely accused by a ruthless woman, then sitting in a prison cell for years. Sarah, bitter, barren, sad, and old. Where was God during all of this? Weren’t they His people?
Though from their vantage point it seemed they were forgotten, we know better. God saw them. He was with them. Hour by difficult hour he shaped their character, schooled them in perseverance, cultivated grit, honed their patience, and tested their character. He also allowed them to enter the darkness of despair in order to show them the light of their future. All of these people had important callings to fulfill, and training was needed before God would set them loose on the world.
Once it was time for them to step into their God-given destiny, it wasn’t necessarily an immediate embrace. I love Moses’ words after God told him he was the one to take the Israelites into the promised land – talking straight to God, in the presence of a burning bush. “I am nobody. How can I do this? Suppose I do go. The Israelites will say to me, “Who sent you?” Then what shall I say?”
Moses did not thank God for this high call. He didn’t even pause to consider what an honor it was that God was choosing him for the job. Nope. He straight up told the maker of the universe that he was not worthy. And even if he did agree to lead the people out of Egypt, he didn’t know why anyone would follow him. After all, he was a nobody!
And isn’t that how we all feel? We’re nobodies. There is no way God could call us to something significant. And even if He does, who would follow? We see Moses in hindsight. He was a great leader for his people– the right one. But Moses didn’t think that. Not even close.
Other people often see our talents and gifts better than we see our own. We see our weaknesses up close and that can disqualify us in our minds for greater work. Sometimes it takes another person to name what they see, like that woman did for me at the MOPS conference.
Look how God responds to Moses in Exodus 3: “Do not fear, Moses. I will be with you every step of the way… I AM WHO I AM. This is what you should tell the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to rescue you.”
As in, go higher Moses, this isn’t about you. It’s about ME. I’m much bigger than you, your friends, and your world. I’m GOD. Watch what I can do through you.
How much do we need to hear this?
It’s not about us. When God places a call on our lives, it is for His glory. He whispers, “Don’t fear. I’m with you every step.” We may have to be in the waiting room, for a very long time, and hard times will inevitably accompany that season, but we are not forgotten, not even for a second. Maybe, like me, you need to hear that today.
In September my picture and profile was in the middle of the glossy pages of MOPS International’s MOMCON conference notebook as one of the speakers. The significance of this moment was meaningful and deep. As my hand touched the edge of the black stage, I thanked God for allowing this nobody to step up to the microphone.
Paul says in The Message version of Ephesians 4:1-3:
“I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And make sure that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”
This past week I was pushed even further outside my limits when MOPS flew me to their headquarters in Denver to tape a segment for their curriculum next year that will be sent to MOPS groups all over the world. I can easily slide back into the question of “why me?” and “I’m not qualified. I’m nobody” But that isn’t my job to decide. My job is to run on the road God has called me to travel, with humility, discipline, love, and peace leading the way.
When we do what God is asking and step out into unknown territory, our faith is built. We learn that He has already prepared the way. He’s gone before us, and then He goes beside us, providing for the need at hand.
May we, as the saints of the Old Testament, march forward confidently, knowing that God takes the nobodies of the world and uses us to change His world.
Like Moses, have you ever felt like a “nobody” in the face of God’s call? How did you handle this?