[SPOILER ALERT --- This is going to be the introduction to my talk on 12/28 at LaFe13, InterVarsity's national conference for Latino students]
What is a guy like me doing speaking at a conference like this?
I have pale skin. (If I go to the beach without sunscreen, I come home looking like bacon … mmm … bacon)
I have blonde hair. (In pictures with my Latino friends, I’m almost always the “One of these is not like the other ones.”)
But I’m Latino. My mother’s father’s family came from Spain. My father’s family comes from Cuba, from Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey. Now, my mother’s mother’s family comes from South Carolina. That’s where I get my pale skin and light hair. But this … [rubs belly] … this is palomilla and platanos, arroz con pollo and flan.
The same God who gave me my pale skin and my blonde hair, the same God who made me white also made me Latino. He did this on purpose. What will I do with what God has given me?
I have two kids: Will and Jack. They’re named after my father and my grandfather. Here’s a picture of them.
My kids have my pale skin. (They glow in the dark … just a little bit)
My kids have my light hair. (People stop us on the street and say “Your children have such beautiful hair.” And my wife and I reply “Thanks. We styled it this morning with mashed bananas and gogurt ... But you can’t tell because they’re so blonde!”)
My kids have a wonderful, white mother. She is a gift to them. Children have never had a more wonderful mother: she has fun with them and she’s firm with them, she pays attention to them and gives them space when they need it, she even manages to rinse the banana and gogurt out of their hair. My kids have a wonderful mother.
But my kids also have me.
The same God who gave them a white mother and pale skin also gave them me as a father. And when God gave them me as a father, he gave them my whole family history … the rejections I faced for not speaking Spanish, the discrimination my father experienced because he spoke Spanish, the dreams and fears my family carried with them when they crossed the ocean and passed through Ellis Island. God has given all of this – and more – to my sons. What will they do with what God has given them?
You are here at this conference because God has given you something. After the last 24 hours, perhaps you are beginning to see with greater clarity what that something is. It might be written on your skin or buried in your family’s history, but it’s there.
God has a calling and a purpose for you, for you, for someone with your exact identity, your exact physical features, your exact family history. God has a calling and a purpose for you, a gift.
What will you do with what God has given you, his calling, his purpose? What will you do when God calls you?
Will you say “I’m not qualified”?
“I’m not qualified to claim that I’m Latino … I’m too 2nd generation, too American, too pale”
“I’m not qualified to be a follower of Jesus … I’m too sinful, too doubtful, too busy.”
“I’m not qualified to serve God with my life … I’m too shy, too weak, too unprepared”
Will you say “I’m not qualified”?
That’s what Moses said when God met Moses in the desert, after his disastrous attempts to serve God and identify as a Hebrew blew up in his face, after he fled Egypt.
But Moses’ story didn’t end with the story we heard last night. In the passage we’re going to look at tonight, we see God confronting Moses, Moses objecting “I’m not qualified” and God refusing to give up on Moses.
God is the one who gets to decide who’s qualified.