What makes you nervous? What seems to defeat you? What situations are you regularly in where you feel completely inadequate for the task? What do you feel “called to” that you don’t think you can do? These are the questions running through my mind.
A little background…After completing my Rapid Bible Read Thru each year, I spend a month or two going back through the notes I took. There are always insights, questions, events, and people that stand out to me. This year was no different.
I recently completed that process and there’s one “note” that keeps coming back to me. It’s about Moses. Not Moses’s entire story. Not even most of it.
One little part. His starting point. You know…the one about the burning bush. (Check out Exodus 3-4 if you need a refresher.)
During this encounter, Moses asks three questions followed by two statements:
- Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt? (Ex. 3:11)
- If I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what should I tell them? (Ex. 3:13)
- What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, “The Lord did not appear to you”? (Ex. 4:1)
- Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant—because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish. (Ex. 4:10)
- Please, Lord, send someone else. (Ex. 4:13)
Each time Moses opens his mouth he makes a different excuse. (The reason I’m thinking about this so much is that I make the same excuses.)
I am not the right person.
There’s always someone more qualified, right? He’s better. She’s more talented. He’s done this before. She’s the one they want.
I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Frequently, comparison is also the thief of taking the first step.
I don’t have the authority.
The word “authority” could mean a lot of things. I don’t have the title. I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the backing of my boss. I don’t have the credentials.
Sadly, in today’s culture, when we don’t know “for sure” something will succeed – or we don’t have a clear person to blame if we fail – we won’t do anything.
There are too many obstacles.
We live in a culture where the primary equation is: Hard = Bad
We seek comfort. We seek ease. We do anything we can to avoid something painful or challenging.
Here’s the irony. We also want strength, character, and grit.
When was the last time you developed any strength, grew in your character, or showed any grit during a season of smooth sailing?
I’ve said it many times before (but repetition never hurt anyone):
Character is never forged in the fires of comfort.”
I am not talented enough.
And now…back to the Comparison Game. (It’s one you will never win.)
There will always be someone more talented. There will always be someone more educated. There will always be someone with more experience.
You remember Jonah? (Disobeyed. Big fish. Repented. Obeyed.) Yeah…that’s the guy.
Even when he finally obeyed, he was terrible. Here is the entire sermon Jonah spoke when God caused 120,000 people to repent:
In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!”
That’s some terrible preaching! No hope. No kindness. No compassion. No encouragement. Nada. Jonah was a terrible preacher. God used him anyway.
I don’t want to go.
Ok. That’s not really an excuse. It’s more like a last-ditch effort to get out of obeying.
Moses was there. I’ve been there. I’m guessing you’ve been there too.
“God, send someone else. I don’t want to do it.”
So…What was God’s response to Moses’s (and our) excuses?
It’s simple really. Moses was completely focused on himself. And here’s what God said,
“I will certainly be with you.”
“I AM WHO I AM sent you.”
“I will teach you.”
“I will lead you.”
The author of Hebrews must have been very familiar with Moses and his excuses. I’m guessing that’s why he wrote more about Moses in Chapter 11 (known as the Bible’s Hall of Faith) than any other person.
I’m guessing that also why he starts out Chapter 12 with these words…
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, CSB, emphasis added)
You and I are so tempted to focus on ourselves. God asks us to focus on Him.
Focusing on ourselves will lead to worry, defeat, and inaction.
Focusing on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will lead to boldness, confidence, and joyful obedience.
Hmmm…let’s go with the latter.