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Monday, June 09, 2014


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Writer and artist Mary Anne Radmacher has said, “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”

If there ever was a story about courage, look no further than the story of the exodus of God’s people in the Hebrew Scriptures. No other book in the Bible has been more dramatized and filmed except the life of Christ. Perhaps the fascination with this story is because God is not talked about, or even theorized about. Rather, God is there. And God's in the face of Moses almost the entire time.

When we are introduced to Moses, “courage” is a word that resonates and reveals what this stammering prophet’s story is about.

The story of Moses’ beginning would be impossible without the strength and courage of women. There is the bravery of his own mother, who defies the law of the state to keep her son alive; pharaoh’s daughter, who takes the baby she knows is a Hebrew boy and, also in defiance of the state and her father, raises him as her own; and Moses’ sister, Miriam, who guards Moses from a distance as he floats in his basket--eventually bringing their mother to pharaoh’s daughter to be his wet nurse.

The progression of heroines and their showing of courage begins with the midwives Shiphrah and Puah. It is they who defy pharaoh’s edict and refuse to kill the Hebrew boys.

To do that—to stand in the way of genocide and to confront commands from a powerful empire—requires courage.

You know what else requires courage?

To be honest with God.


Soon these little ones will have gained enough courage to spread their wings and fly...

This is why Moses’ story is fascinating. After being saved by the courage of midwives, Moses courageously enters into perhaps the most intimate relationship we see unfold in the story of God.


I’m not talking about the obvious and well known events of Moses’ life: the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the final scene of his life where he stands on the edge of the Promise Land but doesn’t get to enter. No, I’m talking about the moments in Moses’ life where he expresses his frustrations towards God as he and the Israelites wander aimlessly in the desert, when Aaron and the Israelites build a golden cow, and when God calls Moses to the task of being God’s spokesperson–one perk being to go before pharaoh and declare that God’s people be let go. Like most of us would, Moses thinks this is one horrible idea and tries to get out of it: “O my Holy One, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Moses, in the presence of God, had the courage to express to God Moses’ fears and doubts.

And guess what?

God doesn’t abandon Moses. And God also doesn’t buy his excuses.

God responds to Moses: “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Holy One? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”

Thus continues the story of God’s presence and promise to always be with God’s people.

Courage doesn’t always look like a person who has their lives in order, who always has a smile on their face in all their Facebook photos, nor is courage defined as a radical act of protest in the face of an oppressive political play out.

Courage, like many of the most-treasured virtues, is often much more subtle. It looks like ordinary people, doing ordinary things, and being honest not only with others and themselves, but with God.

We resolve to “try again tomorrow” because we, as God’s people, live in the hope and promise that, like with Moses, God will meet us there.

[Adam Quine, First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]


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