On this Passover, I’ll undertake something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone: comparing myself to Moses. We have a few things in common. We both found our calling. If you’ve been looking for yours, you might benefit from hearing how we found ours.
You probably know the story of the early life of Moses (Exodus 2:1-4:20). He’d been raised a privileged adopted son in the Pharaoh’s household. Nonetheless, after committing murder, he couldn’t escape the death penalty; so, he fled to the desert country of Midian, got married and settled down. There, he encountered a burning bush which sent him on his calling.
I was no pharaoh’s grandson; but, compared to the rest of the world, you could say I was privileged. I often suspected I was secretly adopted, as Moses may have. I never committed murder, but in high school class, when a teacher asked everyone to raise their hands if they loved mankind, every hand shot up but mine and that of my friend, Dave. Ironically, Dave went on to do some humanitarian work for the UN, and I become a therapist. I don’t know how Dave found his calling; but I do know how I found mine.
After high school, I sojourned into a desert of my own, built a cabin in the most remote part of New York State, settled in with my books, and thought I had escaped the world. My wife and I got involved with a church; rather, she got involved, and I came along. One day, the pastor called on us and asked me if I would join his visitation team to help him provide pastoral care to the sick and lonely.
Me? I said, you’ve got to be kidding.
He said, I’m not.
I said, no way.
He said, pray about it for a couple weeks.
I said, sure I will. Anything to get him out of the house.
A few days later, I was with my family at a restaurant and an old Veteran with no legs wheeled himself over and started talking as if he would never leave. He didn’t have anything important to say; he just wanted company. I brushed him off and got out of the restaurant without hearing about all his aches and pains, political opinions, and relations that never came to see him. There was only one problem.
Afterwards, I felt guilty.
When the pastor returned, I told him, yes, I would join his visitation team; not because I would be good at it, but because it was the only thing that could make me human.
Visitation eventually evolved into a counseling practice of more than thirty years. I discovered that, not only did it make me human, but it was also a good use of being an oddity and all my book learning.
Getting back to comparing myself to Moses, you can see some parallels. He committed murder; I had contempt for humankind. We both fled to our deserts and married. He had his Burning Bush. I had my pastor. He stuttered and told the Burning Bush he could never speak in public. I was a recluse and could never visit the sick and lonely. Neither his Burning Bush nor my pastor took no for an answer. He had a miracle. I had a tardy compassion towards a garrulous guy in a wheelchair. Both our callings sent us back to the source of our guilt. He, a murderer, went on to become a lawgiver. I, a misanthrope, went on to invite people to tell me about their problems. When Moses went to Pharaoh to say, let my people go, his privilege gave him access. I had access to an education and the credibility of a license. When he led the Hebrews, he found his tribe. I also found mine.
If you’re looking for your calling and can’t seem to find it, you may be looking in the wrong place. Both Moses and I found ours where we least suspected it. It was not in the direction of our strengths, but towards our weakness. It sent us to do something we did not want to do. Moses’ calling made him great. Whether mine will make me great, we’ll have to see. But, when we began to follow our callings, we didn’t do so because it would make us great. We did so because it would make us human. I think that’s always our calling, no matter who we are. You, me, and Moses, are called upon to be fully human. Luckily, that’s one thing we all know how to do; sometimes it’s the only thing.