Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, January 16

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
—Exodus 3:13-14a

Several years ago, I heard a great sermon by a Presbyterian pastor named Joanna Adams.  In her sermon, she read this Scripture passage and then she said, “When God said this to Moses, what God meant was, ‘I am who I am—and YOU are not!’" I can remember hearing that sermon as vividly as if it were yesterday.

Perhaps the reason I was so struck by the preacher’s words is that I was laboring under the illusion of my own importance to other people and to my work. It is such an easy trap to fall into, especially if you are inclined to be a workaholic. We do well and get praise; we are effective and receive applause. 

Slowly, our sense of being needed—or, let’s face it, being indispensable—grows. Before long, we are hooked on a long and dangerous hook: that we know what is right, what is wrong, and that we are absolutely necessary.

Being a good parent, wife, husband, worker, executive, pastor—whatever it is—can bring great satisfaction and joy. But believing that we are unique and irreplaceable is dangerous. What a relief to hear the Exodus passage in that light, to in effect hear God say, "I am who I am, period. YOU, on the other hand, are my beloved child.  And that is quite enough."

Thank you, God, for this insight. You created us in your own image but you alone are God. Help us to live joyfully, love abundantly, and delight in the world you have given us. Amen.