by Linda Hartley, Assoc. Minister (Designated Term)          –          March 5, 2020

“Then God said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt;…So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ God said, ‘I will be with you….’” (Ex. 3:7, 10-12a; NRSV)

Most of us recognize our talents, especially if those are artistic in some way. From an early age, we may have known we are good at music, or writing, or painting, or some one of the other myriad forms of artistic expression. Or, we may recognize that we have a “head for numbers,” or for organization, or for inspiring others to action. Those of us who are fortunate enough to find ways to use our talents in our work lives can find work rewarding, even fun (at times—after all, it is called “work”). All of this is wonderful for us and for those with whom we share our talents.

Spiritual gifts may be thought of as talents, but the Bible tells us that they’re a little different. As the story of Moses shows us, spiritual gifts are given to us by God to enable us to do the work God needs us to do.

Prior to this encounter with God, Moses had been “working” as a shepherd, taking care of his father-in-law’s flock. If you’d asked Moses what his talent was during that time, he may have said he had a talent for taking care of sheep—he was protective, caring, robust, and knowledgeable about the terrain. If you asked him what he liked about this work, he might have said that it was nice to be outdoors (in good weather) and that the sheep didn’t mind that he wasn’t eloquent. It was good work, and he was relatively content as he was.

Of course, all of this changed after this encounter with God. Now Moses is called upon to speak to Pharaoh and not just speak to Pharaoh, but to convince Pharaoh that he should let the Israelites leave Egypt. And, once the Israelites have left Egypt, Moses needs to keep them motivated for the next forty years in the wilderness. This is going to require a whole new skill set.

The good news was that God was going to provide Moses with all he needed to accomplish what God asked him to do. This is the good news for us as well. Because God does the same thing for us today, gifting us with what we need to do the work God calls us to do. These are the spiritual gifts God bestows upon us at any point in our lives.

Moses was not a young man when God called upon him to lead the people. But, he had the one thing that is essential for any one of us to answer God’s call. Moses was willing to listen to what God was asking of him. Yes, he had his doubts. Yes, he wasn’t sure about any of this at first. But, he continued to listen. He stayed in conversation with God.

During this season of Lent, some of us will be exploring spiritual gifts in a series of classes where we will be looking at our own lives to discern the gifts we have been given, and listening for the new ways we may be called to use our gifts. And, while it is always good to do this work with others, you can also do this on your own. It could be a Lenten practice.

Set aside some time each day to listen for the ways God may be calling you to see something new in yourself, something God is doing now in your life. You may be surprised by what God has in mind for you. And like Moses, you may have doubts. But if you stay in conversation with God, you may find new gifts that will not only enrich your life, but will also enrich the lives of others. The possibilities are endless.