Who Am I?

Moses’ name means “Draw Out.” What exactly is the significance to that name? He was born to Hebrew slaves, placed in a basket along the reeds of the Nile River, and drawn out by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised as a prince of Egypt, grandson to one pharaoh…nephew to another, defender of justice, and rescuer of the priest of Midian’s daughters. Jethro—the priest of Midian—rewarded Moses for his valiant efforts with the hand of his daughter Zipporah in marriage.

I admire Moses’ humility.  I watch The Ten Commandments every Passover. I’m totally convinced that my kids LOVE this 7-hour event as much as I do. In the movie, Jethro tells Moses he can select one of his seven daughters to be his wife. Seven! …and they’re all stunningly gorgeous. If that doesn’t puff you up with pride, I’m not sure what would.

One day, as Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flocks near Mt. Horeb, he saw a bush on fire that wasn’t burning up. Remember…this is the desert. Clap your hands too hard and every bush within 100 yards would light up and become ash within three seconds. This was an impressive sight. Furthermore, God called to Moses from out of the bush and told Moses to go to Pharaoh and draw God’s people out of Egypt.

Moses’ humbly responded, “Who am I?”

As I considered Moses’ first response to God’s call from a burning bush that doesn’t burn up, I imagined what I would have said back to him, if I were God:

“Really Moses? Really? You’re an Israelite who was raised as prince in the greatest empire of the ancient world. Pharaoh is your uncle, you were raised by his sister, you were born for this task, you have the desires of a rescuer and deliverer running through your veins. Your name literally means, “Draw Out.”  Do I need to “draw it out” for you? You were rescued to rescue. You were delivered to deliver. You were “drawn out” to “draw” my people “out” of Egypt. You will “draw” them to my holy mountain where you’ll “draw out” my law and “draw” them to obedience. And by the way…in case you haven’t noticed…I’m speaking to you from a BURNING BUSH!”

Instead God simply said, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12).

Moses had come to a place of true humility. He possessed no entitlement whatsoever, and honestly believed that he was the last person on Earth that God should choose for this enormous task. Moses recognized that God’s purpose for his life was a gift…a gift he didn’t deserve.

My first name, Shawn, is of Irish and Hebrew origin and means, “God is Gracious.” My middle name, Evan, is of Welsh, Scottish, and Hebrew origin and means, “God is Gracious.” Perhaps my parents were so taken back by my appearance that they decided I needed all the grace God could muster. Maybe God graciously provided me with a little extra cartilage to further accent my Dutch nose. I would like to think that I was such an amazing gift that my parents wanted to emphasize God’s grace—a grace so nice they named me twice.

My name-tag should read, “Hello, My Name is God is Gracious2 Vander Lugt.

Whatever the case may be, it took me a while to truly understand the magnitude behind my name. Why is the graciousness of God such a big deal?

I was a good kid growing up. I went to church three times a week, memorized my catechism and memory verses, and earned a plethora of badges in Cadets. I didn’t swear, I honored and respected my parents, and I read the Bible every night. I repeatedly thought to myself, “God should be proud of me.” In fact, for a chapter of my life, I honestly believed God owed me something. It didn’t matter to me whether God was gracious or not…I deserved whatever good He was passing out and didn’t’ deserve any of the bad.

I moved to California three weeks after the date I was supposed to get married. For the first eight months on the west coast, my thoughts were riddled with depression and resentment. I resented her…of course…but I also resented God. I believed I was entitled to happiness. I DIDN’T DESERVE THIS! My self-righteousness had invaded my soul to such a degree that I honestly believed God owed me something more than what He’d already provided. Unlike Moses, I expected a burning bush…I expected a call from God where he asked me to do something magnificent because I deserved it! Instead of asking God, “Who am I?” I was ready to ask Him, “What have you been waiting for?”

In January 2000, I started attending Mosaic Church. Mosaic has a Sunday evening service at the Mayan Night Club in downtown Los Angeles. In April, Pastor Erwin McManus began a series on forgiveness. I distinctly remember the service on resentment. The lesson for that particular service was The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). The intention of the service was to guide us in facing our own brokenness and recognizing the significance of our debt in comparison to the debt of those who hurt us. It didn’t quite stick that night!

That next weekend, a group of young adults from Mosaic went camping in the high desert…just outside of Victorville, California. As the group sang songs, played bongo drums, and worshiped around a roaring campfire, I climbed to the top of a nearby mountain. When I reached the top of the mountain, I sat down on a rock formation and listened to the drums as they echoed through the desert valley. I looked up at the magnificent display of stars in the sky and down upon the shadows as they danced along the cliffs beside the campfire, and I thanked God for his grace. After 25 years, I finally realized that God didn’t OWE me anything. God had already given me everything I needed in Jesus Christ. I wasn’t entitled to anything—including my salvation. Everything in my life is a gift. God’s graciousness, received by my faith in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His defeat over the grave, far exceeded my previous expectations. I forgave my former fiancé that night and I asked God to forgive me for my self-righteousness and ungratefulness. The resentment I had fostered against her…and against God…vanished into the cold desert air.

As I recollect that night and my encounter with God, I realize now that it was a “burning bush” experience for me. Sitting upon that rock formation, while God’s people worshiped Him below, I embraced my finitude in the presence of God’s magnitude. I had come to a place of true humility. I possessed no entitlement whatsoever. I honestly believed that I was the last person on Earth to whom God would choose to give the amazing gift of salvation in Jesus Christ…a gift I didn’t deserve.

I also embraced the true magnitude of my name:

GOD IS—most definitely—GRACIOUS squared!         


2 responses to “Who Am I?

  • Chad

    Lucky. “Chad” means “Battle” (appropriate) and as far as i can tell, “Ladean” means “God has a sense of humor.”

    • Shawn Vander Lugt

      I’ve also heard Defender or Protector. Protector from the Sky. That’s pretty Cool! Ladean? Well…our friends in the world wide web are about as baffled as you are…and as I am! An Australian girl’s name that has no meaning! God definitely does have a sense of humor Chad Ladean! 🙂

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