Over the last few weeks I caught a string of sicknesses and suffered through chronic coughs, runny noses, sore throats and fatigue. Naturally, I wanted to spend most of my free time resting, relaxing and recuperating. When my girlfriend called, and asked if I wanted to hangout, I occasionally said no because I needed exactly eight hours of sleep or wanted to nurse my runny nose. Sometimes my excuses were legitimate, but others contrived. We all play this game: avoiding responsibility or excusing laziness, with a legitimate weakness or shortcoming, and if we play this game with people, then we probably play it with God.
Thousands of years ago, God’s people, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. After hundreds of years of enslavement God chose a Israelite named Moses to mediate between Him, his people and Pharaoh. Moses would be God’s mouthpiece and representative
God first speaks to Moses on a mountainside through a burning bush. The spectacular scene and voice frightens Moses, who hides for fear of seeing God. Then the Lord announces his great plan for Moses’ life, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Try to imagine for a moment how daunting God’s task would appear. He is commanding Moses, an exile from Egypt, to convince Pharaoh, one of the most powerful men in the world, to release a massive amount of slaves, upon which all of Egypt relies for labor. The task is beyond daunting; it is impossible.
Moses immediately acknowledges his inadequacy and humbly responds, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” How right Moses is! Who is anyone to be included in God’s glorious plans? Who, with human strength and willpower, can do any work of God, much less the emancipation of an entire people group? We can work with all of our human might, but failure is the destination of any great effort without God’s strength. Moses knew his insufficiency.
There is nonetheless good news. Even though we are incapable, God has not abandoned us. God comforts Moses with a promise, and in it the Gospel shines forth, “I will be with you.” Without this hope Moses would be hopeless. Likewise through Christ, God is with us, and by Christ he promised us a treasury of grace and mercy, a fountain of help. It is by Christ’s strength that we labor to love others, worship God, share the gospel, practice humility, show kindness, and live in purity.
Yet Moses was still a man, and rather than trusting God’s promise, he allowed his feelings of inadequacy to rule him. For the rest of the conversation, Moses strings together a series of excuses, in a vain attempt to turn away God.
First Moses complains that no Israelites will trust him, because he doesn’t know enough about who God is. The Lord replies by telling Moses His divine name, and then promises to afflict Egypt with miraculous plagues.
Moses still isn’t sure, so he throws out his second excuse, “they [the Israelites and Egyptians] will say, ‘the LORD did not appear to you.'” God patiently promises to work miracles through to prove Moses’ divine calling in his life (like a staff that can turn into a snake).
Finally Moses gets desperate, and claims he cannot speak before the people because of a speech impediment. Moses probably had a stuttering problem, and probably found public speech difficult, but in reality Moses was just making an excuse. God agrees to find someone else to speak for him, but refuses to let Moses off the hook. Finally Moses throws in the towel, cuts out his pride and bows before the Lord.
And God used him mightily.
We all stutter and fall short in some area of life. Maybe it’s laziness, or self-sacrifice, or body image, or pornography, or alcohol, but God calls us to turn away from sin and idols. For many of us there is those particular sins that consistently defeat us and when God calls us to overcome, we, like Moses looking toward Egypt, feel overwhelmed. In those moods we rightly bow down before God and cry it, “I cannot do this by my own strength!” After that, though, we have a choice. Will you make excuses and deny God, or call upon his promises and strength that you might overcome?
God wants to use you mightily. That’s why he sent Christ to die on the cross to emancipate us from our sins, to draw us up from our shortcomings.
Therefore, if his power is at work within you, no longer excuse God’s calling for you in your life. Let him claim you. Let him transform you. Let him spend you. Let him empower you. Know that all is not lost, in fact all things are won—Christ is with you.