About 8 years ago, I was a 31-year-old with a bunch of things going for me. Here I was, with a successful career and reputation in engineering and preparing to start my own business with a colleague. I had a wonderful girlfriend who I was considering for marriage, we loved to be together, to share our time with each other, to be in each other’s world, and I loved to raise her up and look out for her and see her fulfilled. I had bought my own condo in the Back Bay of Boston, right across the street from the Charles River and a short walk to everything in downtown. I had been a high-school math and science tutor for many students around my hometown area for 7 years, traveling all about to kids’ homes to help the dire cases. I had the gift of being a basketball coach for 14-year-olds for 5 years, and had been a teaching assistant in grad school.
Then, something happened. After a few loud graces from the Lord, I realized I had to check something out. I had to check to see if the Lord was calling me to be His priest. It was this odd almost curiosity that I had to go and check out. So, I decided that I would meet with the priest who is the vocation director at the Shrine I was attending, and ask him a simple question. Certainly, I thought, if I go to the vocation director and find out, my curiosity would be satisfied, and then I could move on. End of story. I could get married, go full steam with the new business, move along with coaching and tutoring and maybe some teaching.
So, I went to just ask him a simple question. All I wanted to know was, what are the first steps that a man takes in checking to see if God is calling him to the priesthood? So, we sit down to meet, and I ask him, “I’m just wondering, you know, I have a girlfriend I’m considering marrying and all – I’m just wondering, what is the first thing a guy would do to see if God is calling him to the priesthood.” There it was. I figure he’ll give me a little information, probably chuckle at me and relieve any concerns I might have, and I would move on, all done.
No. Not so simple.
The next thing, he’s telling me to seek spiritual direction and giving me some good advice about discernment.
I left there thinking, what? I like my life, I like my girlfriend, my career, my friends, the coaching and tutoring and teaching. How am I going to leave all this? How am I going to do this impossible task alone? Can’t you get someone else?
I had one condition. I could never do what He wanted of me, until one very specific condition was satisfied. I don’t think anyone could. Finally, after a lot of hesitation and complaining and attempted bargaining, I said to the Lord, “OK, I’ll go. I’ll leave everything You want me to and go on the mission You have for me, but on ONE condition:
You have to be with me. I will only go if You’ll always be with me.”
When Moses encountered the burning bush in the desert, life was pretty good for him. He was living free in a good land with a wife and son. He was a good shepherd who looked out for the weaker, and he tended his father-in-law’s flock. Everything was all well and good, a nice life.
Until he saw the burning bush. “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Ex 3:3)
You know, I bet he was thinking it would be a good little story to bring home and tell everyone about. It would be a good one to share the next time he could be together with his family. Instead, what does he hear? Oh, only that God wants to send him to the Pharoah to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.
The Pharoah? The king of the world superpower. Let’s put it in today’s terms.
That’s like having achieved the American dream, the spouse, the kids, the house, the career, the good life, and then being called to leave it all to be sent alone to President Barak Obama. You are called to get a visit lined up and stand alone before the president, inside the White House in Washington, surrounded by his cabinet, the press, the White House staff, with the Pentagon nearby. You have the responsibility to tell him that God wants him to allow you to lead a group of the workers in the US away to another country. Essentially, you want to take away a good-sized lot of the people and shake the nation’s whole economy to its core.
What is God saying to Moses? He’s saying, leave your very nice, beautiful life for mission impossible. For insanity.
So why does Moses go? Why does he ultimately do it? Why does he go to the king of the world superpower and expect to lead thousands of the hardworking people out from that country to a new one?
There’s only one reason. It’s because, standing there before the Pharoah in the king’s palace, with all the Pharoah’s staff and cabinet and generals and priests, he’s not alone.
The Lord God of all creation is with him. “But I will be with you.” (Ex 3:12)
If the Lord calls you to check out a curiosity about His service, don’t be afraid. If He calls you to a mission impossible, if you are being called to something impossible outside your comfort zone, outside of your good life, don’t be afraid.
And you will never be alone.
He will always be with you.
“I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20)