“You Said WHAT?”  Dialogue Trees and Candid Conversations With the Creator (Exodus 3 and 4)

One of my favorite new wrinkles in the world of gaming is the rise of dialogue driven games.  From action RPGs such as Skyrim and Mass Effect to the explosion of titles from Telltale Games covering everything from Batman to Minecraft, gamers are experiencing an embarrassment of riches when it comes to having a “say” in what their characters say.  When I was growing up I was a fanatic of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book franchise for this very reason, and if you have never read one you are missing out on an interactive book experience that would feel right at home on your gaming monitor.  While many of these books came down to a simple binary conclusion delivered in various ways (your character either died/failed in a myriad of manners or you achieved the proper ending), the feeling of carving out YOUR version of the hero complete with unique dialogue options was unheard of at that time and is clearly inspiring a plethora of gaming choices now.

This transition of gaming from a playground for only those with the most nimble of reflexes into a more accessible version of interactive cinema is a fantastic development.  Most of the great games succeed because they allow the player an opportunity to live vicariously through the protagonist, and it is only logical that this extends into a larger variety of conversational options to propel stories into unique directions that make the protagonist’s  journey into the player’s story.  When I cannot relate to a character’s decisions or their verbal choices it makes it very difficult to connect with their plight, and the less realistic my avatar is behaving the easier it is for me to simply find a better use of my time.  These episodes of the Flash aren’t going to binge watch themselves ya know…

With the Bible covering thousands of years of humanity’s existence it is easy to forget that each of the chapters within its pages was not a “story” for the person being covered, it was their LIFE.  For many, the Bible condenses an entire existence down to a handful of sentences or maybe a simple reference to when they “begat” someone.  But in a handful of special circumstances we get a director’s cut version of the action, as the curtain is pulled back on some amazing conversations between some of the biggest names in the Bible and the Creator of the universe.  Let’s go on a backstage tour for a one of these hard-to-believe interactions between the Potter and the clay…

Perhaps two of the most “human” chapters in the Bible are found in Exodus chapters three and four.  For us he may be the man, the myth, and the legend, but at this time Moses was anything but those things.  As he lives his quiet life on the countryside he experiences a divine interruption that alters his path as well as the history of the human race… but not without some serious pushback.  Let’s catch up with him in Exodus 3:11 after he has just received the mind-blowing summons to lead his enslaved nation into freedom.  The dialogue tree begins to unfold in a very logical and realistic fashion as Moses has his first opening… “Who am I to lead the people out of bondage?”  A very fair question, considering he is a fugitive from the law living a nomadic life on the fringes of civilization.  God’s answer is a suitably direct response to the question of Moses’s worthiness for the mission, as He explains it isn’t about him at all and that He would personally be with Moses throughout the mission.  And for many people in the Bible, that simple assurance would suffice and we would turn the page and find Moses in humble obedience to God.  But this conversation is FAR from over…

In verse 13 Moses begins mounting a not-so-passive protest to his nomination in earnest, asking God for His “name” as a way of confirming who is sending him.  Now keep in mind, for the entirety of mankind’s existence to this point God has existed without providing a first name to call Him by.  So Moses’s request has a bit of a hollow ring to it because even if God gave Moses a name to use for reference it would not be able to be confirmed by the Israelites Moses was being sent to save, since He didn’t have one before and He wasn’t starting one now.  He simply IS, and He progresses for the remainder of the chapter providing encouragement to Moses and a clear message to deliver from the “I AM”.  So we should be good now, right?  The motivational speech by God now completed, Moses can just slide his arrow over to “Accept the mission” and we pack up and hit the road?

Not so fast… chapter four is where this really turns into the most candid conversation recorded between a human being and the Almighty.  Abraham may have held the record previously and Gideon and his fleece may have more notoriety,  but they can’t hold a candle to what happens next.  Follow the dialogue tree with some “poetic license paraphrasing”:

– Verse 1: 

Moses:  Suppose they don’t believe me?

God:  I will give you miraculous powers to convince them.  They will believe those.

– Verse 10: 

Moses: But I don’t have the capability… my speech is slow, my tongue is slow, and I’m simply not eloquent enough.

God: I made you and your tongue.  I will tell you what to say.  Plus, you just used the word eloquent, and that’s a pretty big word.  You will do fine.

– Verse 13:

Moses: Please send literally anyone else.

God: Fine, I will send you some help.  Your brother Aaron will do the talking.  Now get going.  And when he has the bright idea to make a golden cow, remember YOU invited him to the party.

Now while I clearly took some license with the interaction, consider this amazing scene as well as some of the other documented and seemingly unlikely interactions between a finite man and the immortal God of heaven… Abraham negotiated with God, Gideon proved God, Jacob wrestled with Him…. and now we have Moses choosing every dialogue option available to avoid his destiny.  Five times Moses challenged the Almighty with His decision, each time selecting to deny the inevitable and necessary outcome.  And God not only allows this, but responds with answers.  Isn’t that amazing! And the story doesn’t stop here, as Moses and the Lord launch a well-documented relationship of open honesty and transparency that is almost unrivaled in Scripture.

These interactions are chronicled for a reason:  He WANTS to have an open, branching dialogue with each of us, every day.  It is no coincidence that the people who spent the greatest amount of their time in open pursuit of a real relationship with their Creator are also the ones who dominate chapters and books of the Bible… Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, and Jesus Himself.  They never hit decline on their phones when the call from God to “talk” came through and the openness in their discussions are as refreshing in their humanity as they are surprising in how frank they can be.  It is clear that God is not looking for canned, “spiritual” responses from His people.  He urges us to keep it “real”, casting all of our cares and concerns on the One who can actually do something about it.

I encourage you to have a candid conversation with your Creator today and don’t be afraid to tell Him what He already knows.  Open up the full range of dialogue options and approach His throne  of grace boldly as the child of the King.  After all, you aren’t going to tell Him anything He hasn’t already heard before.  Not sure you heard Him clearly?  Feeling unprepared for what He has placed before you?  Afraid it’s not even Him talking to you?  Worried nobody will believe you?  As we saw with Moses as well as throughout Scripture, you are not alone in those feelings or concerns.  You are incredibly unique because He made you that way, and He wants to be just as intimately involved in your story as He was with Moses.  Time to select “talk to God” from the menu…


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