Monday, January 31, 2005

I Yam What I Yam, But That's Not All That I Yam

One of the most profound statements on the human condition comes from an uneducated man, not very sophisticated. Popeye had probably not been in therapy -- unaquainted with his shadow self or his inner child. He was just a simple, pipe-smoking, seafaring, tatoo-wearing, sailor man.

When he felt sad or inadequate or defensive, he would repeat his familiar refrain: I yam what I yam. If he was especially emotional, he might add: And that's all that I yam.

It's kind of a sad, melancholy statement. Don't get your hopes up. Don't expect too much. I'm nothing special.

When God calls to Moses from out of the burning bush, Moses' list of excuses begins with Popeye's defense. He says, "Who am I? They won't listen to me. I yam what I yam."

I imagine Moses thinking that if only this call could have come 40 years earlier. Back then, he had status. Now, he's just a broken down, fugitive -- an anonymous shepherd in a backwater town trying to squeak out a living. He's married now, raising a family, living in the suburbs. He's settled down.

But God calls him anyway. Moses wants to know, "Who am I?"

God says, in a grand sense, "It doesn't really matter who you are. I'm going to be with you." In other words, You yam what you yam, but you yam not what you yam gonna be!

That's the message of God from the burning bush today. All the stuff from your past that you think disqualifies you from doing really great things -- all the guilt, all the things you wish you could take back -- none of that matters now. It's not the ultimate truth about you anymore. The Immanuel Presence of God renders all that irrelevant. God is with you, so get your hopes up!