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Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Ex 4: 10 – 12).

I sometimes wish that my mind could be quicker than it is. To be able to give a witty response to every situation and make the world laugh around me. To say just the right thing in the moment.

But Moses isn’t complaining about a shortage of comedic skills, or even a lack of wise rhetoric.  His problem may have been more basic.

Some have suggested he had a speech impediment, making it difficult for him to express himself with confidence. Perhaps he didn’t feel he knew the language of the Egyptian royal court well enough to be understood. Or he might have been prone to panic attacks with the thought of standing up in front of others and making a speech.

Whatever the reason, Moses considered himself “slow of speech and tongue” therefore believed God had made a huge mistake in choosing him to be His spokesperson.

Towards the end of Jesus’ life, there is a hint that He guessed some of His disciples might struggle with public speaking, or even just articulating their faith to others when they needed to. “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12: 11 – 12).

In both of our passages today, the Lord promises to teach the person what they need to say.

I have found in my own life that speaking well does not come naturally to me. In my early years as a high school teacher, I did not have the natural confidence to address uninterested teenagers. And years later, serving in pastoral ministry, I will still agonise over the right words to share with a brother or a sister in a sensitive conversation.

But one thing I can say is that the Lord does help. He does give wisdom when you ask for it, even if you have to pray about it for a while, chew it over or seek advice. Over time, he has graciously allowed me to learn boldness, particularly when I know He has given me something to say.

And he can do the same for you.

One of the best preachers I have ever known, would often struggle with a stutter when he spoke. I think God helped him more than anyone knew, but He kept my friend reliant on Him at the same time.

The Lord will help us and teach us what to say, but never to the point where we become proud of our wisdom or oratory skills. If we can get that balance right, what an amazing thought it is that we might be a spokesperson for God himself.