When I was in school, one of the main parts of every day was “Chapel”. It was an opportunity to take time for worship, prayer and to hear a message of challenge or encouragement from a staff member, student or periodically a guest speaker. On one particular occasion, we had a guest speaker with special challenges. His name was David Ring. When you looked at David, he seemed kind of “normal.” He spoke with his American accent and would slur his speech a bit. But when he walked, that is when you noticed that he did so with a little bit of awkwardness. You see, David Ring has Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects mobility as well as a myriad of other physical and emotional problems.
One of David Ring’s passions is evangelism. In fact, that is his ministry; to go around the world and tell people about Jesus and to encourage Christ-followers to share their faith with others. His “punchline” was “I’ve got MS… what’s your excuse?” Honestly, I found his words convicting and challenging. How often have I (and probably all of us) have used one excuse or another so we wouldn’t do the things we should?
There are many different excuses we probably all have used. Sadly, each one has been used at one time or another by some of the most faith-filled people in history. One excuse I’ve heard over and over is the “Who Me?” excuse. In Exodus 3 we find a conversation God had with Moses. Now we remember Moses as this great leader who led the people out of Egypt. He is so revered he was called a “friend of God.” But there was a time when he and God weren’t so close.
In Exodus 3, God calls Moses to go back to Egypt and call on Pharaoh to let the Jews go. As the conversation goes on, Moses tries to convince God of his shortcomings and inability to fulfill God’s call. In other words, Moses told God, “I’m not good enough.”
Now how many of us have used that excuse? We look at our lives, our past sins and our present shortcomings and we tell God, we can’t obey because in our opinion, we don’t measure up. But we need to remember that it isn’t about us. When God calls us to something, He is the One who equips and empowers us to fulfill it. Past baggage is just that… past!
But another issue Moses struggled with was he didn’t really trust God. He tries to excuse himself but saying people won’t believe him when he speaks. He tells God, “Who should I say is sending me?” This was another excuse for Moses not to obey. He used the people’s lack of faith to excuse his own. But God responds with the well-known phrase, “I AM WHO I AM.” This verse not only declared God’s identity, but also proclaimed His power and glory.
This is also a reminder to us that doing things for God begins by first knowing God. Success in any endeavour isn’t our responsibility, rather it is God’s. He will work in and through us but it begins with our responsibility to be obedient and faithful and that begins with having a relationship with God founded on trust.
But Moses isn’t done here. In chapter 4, he goes on to give God a series of “What if’s” to justify his non-participation. Even here God answers his concerns. I think we too like to use the hypothetical or the possible as excuses not to be obedient. We will think of the “worst case scenarios” to convince ourselves and God that we shouldn’t do it. If God were to call us help the marginalized, we may use the lack of money, the possibility of disease or that we may experience harm, in order not to move.
Moses tried it with God, but he went even further, asking God for proof that He would meet the hypothetical situations Moses imagined. Again, God proves Himself through changing a staff into a snake, cleansing leprosy and turning water to blood.
At this point, many of us might be convinced and go forward in obedience, but not Moses. In one of his final arguments, he says to God, “Lord I Don’t Speak Well.” Again, God explains that He is the One who gives the ability to speak the words to say.
As I mentioned earlier, God empowers us to do whatever He calls us to. And we also need to remember that He is the One who made us the way we are. We may feel like we lack, but God will take that foundation, who we are and He will use us that way or if needed, give us the gifts, talents, and resources to accomplish His will.
At this point in Exodus 4, Moses is exasperated. But he makes one final desperate attempt to not follow God’s call. His last excuse to God is to “Send someone else.” This is probably one excuse I hear more often than others. People will often say, “I’m not as gifted as he or she is… use them.” You see, we discover this is Moses’ real problem. He just didn’t want to do it.
So how did God respond? Like in the Garden, when Adam was overwhelmed with taking care of it, God provided a “helper.” Moses brother Aaron would be his helper who would speak on God and Moses’ behalf… God came through again!
Dr. B. J. Miller once said, “It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it.” In Moses’ situation, he tried everything he could in order to get out of doing, but God proved Himself capable and answering every excuse Moses could come up with.
Moses’ response often mirrors our own. But this isn’t God’s ideal of what obedience should look like. Too often, our response to God isn’t based on our inability to obey rather it is based on our unwillingness to obey. God works in and through His children in reaching the world for Christ. We can choose to be a part of this great work or we can choose to sit on the sidelines watching others be blessed in their obedience. What will we do?