Tuesday, October 05, 2010

No Excuses

God met with Moses from out of the burning bush to assign him an important but difficult mission. Moses had been tending sheep in the wilderness for years. I'm sure there were some difficulties that accompany that kind of work. But God's mission would now push Moses beyond the realm of the uncomfortable to the land of the impossible. And Moses was not sure that he was ready.
Following God is like that. Most of us can figure out how to manage life "on the farm," so to speak. It's when we realize that God wants us to live beyond our chores and love beyond our families that it begins to get difficult. And so, like Moses, we begin to make excuses.
Excuse #1 - Who Am I?
“But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”” (Exodus 3:11 NAS95). This sounds humble at first. "I'm not worthy." "There are others who would be better choices." But once we get past the humble-jumble, we have to realize that God knew to whom He was talking. He had rescued Moses' life from its basket beginning. He had placed Moses for a time in Pharoah's household. He had watched over Moses during those years with the sheep. He knew Moses inside and out. He knows Moses better than Moses knows Moses. And He knows you as well.
It's a little impolite to criticize the tools when they are God's tools, made and designed by God. We are certainly invited to talk to God about our sins, our worries, our fears. But don't tell God that you can't do what He is asking you to do. If He is asking you to be His instrument, He'll provide the strength and the wisdom to get the job done.
Excuse #2 - Who Are You?
“Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”” (Exodus 3:13 NAS95). How is Moses supposed to explain Someone who is unlike anything else in the world to slaves in Egypt? It is as though he is saying, "God, I know who you are. But those people in Egypt don't. How will they follow me if they don't know You?" The truth is, none of us would know God if God hadn't revealed Himself to us. And if God doesn't reveal Himself to someone, then we can't make it happen, no matter what names or words we use.
God had revealed Himself and something about Himself to Moses out of the non-extinguishing bush. An apt image for "I Am Who I Am," God's existence owes nothing to anyone or anything else, and He borrows resources for continuing existence from no one and nothing. He simply is. He is independent, unlike us. And He is perfectly able to make Himself known as He sees fit. The ignorance and unbelief of people around us are no excuse for avoiding God's mission. 
Excuse #3 - How Will I Convince Them?
“Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?” (Exodus 4:1 NAS95). Moses is saying, "I don't have the resources I need to do this impossible job." God says, "What is that in your hand?" (v.2). A staff. Just a stinkin' staff, the symbol of Moses exile and boredom for all these years in the wilderness. And God can transform it into a fearsome serpent that Moses can once again handle. "Now put your hand into your bosom." (v.6). And Moses sees God introduce and remove plague right in his own body. And further, Moses was instructed to take some water from the Nile in Egypt and pour it on dry ground, and it would be turned to blood. God was able to actually transform properties and natural laws. 
Again, it was not up to Moses to do the convincing. God would do that. Moses was just to obey. There is no debate that the obedience was going to be tough. It would be uncomfortable and seemingly impossible. But the results would be totally up to God. So no excuses.
Excuse #4 - I Regard My Past as Determinative for My Future
“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 NAS95). We only know what we've experienced. For many of us, that has been a string of disappointments. We haven't measured up to our own expectations, let alone God's. But while my imagination might be bound by my history, God's plans and purposes are not. The miracle of redemption and forgiveness is that we are set free from our pasts, and God is doing something new in us and through us.
Moses and I should learn from our past experiences. But faith would lead us to obey God and to do His will no matter what. God's mission would lead us beyond ourselves, no excuses.

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