Dr. Stephen Phinney
I will never forget the day when I was told I had ‘word blindness,’ what people call dyslexia today. I was well into my adult years when I was told. On the one hand, I was relieved; on the other hand, it dug up years of resentment.
For those who are new to the term, dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects brain areas that process language while blocking the ability to replicate viewed content onto paper or typed documents.
People with dyslexia frequently have average to higher intellect. Although, most are labeled mentally challenged. As in my case, being labeled borderline mentally retarded in high school. Typically, they see letters backward or not at all, and this results in difficulty seeing similarities and differences in letters and words. It is the leading reason people with dyslexia avoid reading. Thus, they are poor spellers and have difficulty with the ability to learn and maintain grammar rules. As for public speaking, well, they avoid this like the plague.
Fear typically dominates their life.
Do you remember when God called Moses to speak to Pharaoh and His people? Do you remember what Moses said to God in his reply? I do, and it stays with me every day, particularly when God had asked me to write as a part of our ministry.
Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
The Lord was not content with Moses’s response. While I used similar excuses throughout my life, God never settles with our excuses, and God laid it out for Moses in a clear and specific way.
The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11)
Fact. The Lord wanted him to see that He made Moses with such weaknesses. However, Moses was not about to yield to the voice of the Lord. And God knew it. As per the norm for God, He leaves Moses with a command.
“Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 4:12)
Again, Moses was unsettled with the Lord’s directive. He immediately tells the Lord to come up with a different plan – that does not include himself.
But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will." (Exodus 4:13)
Moses was aware of what causes the living God to revert to anger, and that is none other than disobedience. However, this did not stop him from trying to escape God, asking him to do something that rubbed in the face of his speech-impediment. With this, Moses had a hidden plan. The whomever You will was his brother Aaron. Since God knows our thoughts before we have them, the Lord implements a plan to covertly use Moses’ fear-based irresponsibility to do what was first assigned to Moses. While you would think Moses’s disobedience would further advance God’s anger, God complies.
Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, "Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. (Exodus 4:14)
Keep in mind, God’s decision was made in anger. Since God knew that Aaron would fumble the ball (command) in a short period, and the job would be diverted back to Moses, the Lord makes use of Moses’s fear. Although God knew Moses “needed” an escape clause to get the ball moving, and thus, God complies with his fear-driven idea or solution.
Early in my ministry, I, too, played out this fear-based excuse. While I found relief in my self-governed excuses, I had a problem. In defaulting to other writers who taught on the identifying Life of Christ, I became restless about these writers avoiding what I believed God wanted to be said, particularly within the arena of culture. It put me up against the wall. It left me with imaginary guilt that I was too lazy to overcome my disability by making use of this weakness, which God initially promised.
Nonetheless, in the case of Moses, God begins using Moses as the mega-phone to inspire his brother with His words. Can you imagine the relief Moses felt? Moses must have felt his plan was sustainable and better equipped to accomplish God’s ordained plans. Not! Failure was around the corner. As we learn through reviewing the book of Exodus, Aaron reveals just how weak he is.
"Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.” (Exodus 4:16)
I hope you caught the primary doctrinal theme in this verse – you will be as God to him. In this, we discover the method God uses for generations to come. Moses became the God figure, the representative for ages, and Aaron thus became our spiritual leaders' weak, frail representative of preachers. This dynamic runs into our present teachers, prophets, and pastors standing in the pulpits distributing the Words of God to the people – some being “right on,” while the lion’s share teaches formidable content. And as we know, this too ultimately becomes a mostly failed display of God’s organic proclamations.
So, how does God manage this dilemma?
The Lord gives Moses a staff. A staff, mat-teh', mat-taw,' means tribe. In Modern Hebrew, Latin and English is means support of Life. Thus, the staff became the eternal symbol of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important regarding our topic? While God defaulted to Moses’s fear-based irresponsibility, the Holy Spirit remained with Moses, not his brother Aaron. All of the power of the signs, activity of God, and the presence of God’s power, remained with Moses. As most of us know, this redirects what God did regarding Pharaoh and other enemies and the miracles performed for God’s people back into the hands of the one who was initially called – Moses.
God did not give up on the man who was called. He didn't care about his speech-impediment, which He put in place. Rather, He made use of the weaknesses of man to advance a modality that would set a president of the Triune of God – God the Father (Moses), God the Son (spiritual leaders), and God the Holy Spirit (the staff of Moses). Truly, God uses all things for the good.
Using dyslexia as a compelling staff.