If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I want to grow as a person, but I want to be open to change year round. It just happened that, this past week, God gave me a good look at some changes I need to make. Last Sunday I was walking into a store, and a man standing outside asked if I had a dollar. He didn’t look like a vagrant and he didn’t have any sign asking for help. He spoke in a quiet, hesitating voice, as though he was ashamed to ask. I gave him my standard, ‘I don’t have any cash’ answer, which is true, but it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t help.
On the way out of the store, I avoided eye contact. Part of me wanted to go back, but I didn’t. It weighed heavily on my heart the whole drive home. It felt like the Holy Spirit was convicting me, but I kept driving. I had so many excuses. At the top of the list was that I was a woman and by myself. But I couldn’t escape the fact that I hadn’t asked him what he really needed. I didn’t ask if I could buy him something to eat and drink. In front of a store, in broad daylight, that wouldn’t have been a big risk, but I turned my back. I quenched the Spirit. I even prayed that God would send someone else.
Then the LORD said to [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
I have always cringed reading Moses’ exchange with God at the burning bush, in Exodus 3 and 4. Moses had a lot of objections and excuses for not going to Egypt as God was asking him to. God was pretty stern with Moses, but presumably, Moses could have chosen to run away, like Jonah. Moses obeyed, but only after he angered God with all of his protests. Moses’ initial responses to God seem inquisitive, but he progressed to the point of objecting to God’s plan for him, altogether. When you look at the conversation knowing how it ends, it seems clear that he was trying to get out of it, all along. Moses’ responses progress in this manner:
- Who am I to go? Exodus 3:11
- What shall I say Your Name is? Exodus 3:13
- But they won’t believe me! Exodus 4:1
- But I am slow of speech! Exodus 4:10
- Please send someone else. Exodus 4:13
In between all of Moses’ objections are God’s reassurances that He has this plan figured out. God revealed His Name and promised to be with Moses, and He gave him the power to perform signs. But Moses didn’t want to do it, and I understand that. He was comfortable with his life in Midian. Why would he trade that in for a plan that seemed so difficult?
We don’t know what Moses’ challenges were as far as speech. We don’t know whether he had a serious speech impediment or was looking for a good excuse to get out of going to Egypt. It actually doesn’t matter. What is certain is that everyone in this world faces challenges of one kind or another. Whether the challenges are physical, mental, emotional, economic, or circumstantial, no one is without difficulties. Yet, we all have a choice of how to respond.
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.”
We live in a culture where people use their difficulties to define themselves. Instead of rising to life’s challenges, giving one’s best effort, and working to overcome, difficulties are used as an excuse to not even try to succeed. Followers of Christ, however, are called to be overcomers. Many times, God does not take away the difficulties that plague us, but just as He promised Moses, He is with us to sustain us and give us victory. When He calls us to a task, He wants us to trust Him, not give Him our laundry list of excuses and objections. Moses faced his fears, and his faith became strong and bold. He was the man who spoke to God “face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) Was his legacy tarnished by his foot-dragging and excuses? It doesn’t seem so. As a result of Moses’ objections, God raised up Aaron to share in the work, but Deuteronomy 34 makes it clear that Moses’ greatness was unparalleled.
I can’t make up for the past, I can only move forward. On Monday, I put aside my reservations and donated blood for the first time. For years I have been trying to work up the nerve to do this, and it was time to stop being a wimp. It was not the most pleasant experience, as I am squeamish about these things, but it felt good to overcome my fears. It allowed me to end 2019 feeling like I could conquer challenges. So many of my objections to living how God calls me to come down to selfishness. I am selfish about my time, money, and comfort. If modern American culture didn’t coin the term comfort-zone, then surely we have defined it. But God’s call is almost always outside of our comfort-zones. When Jesus instructed that we “take up [our] cross,” He wasn’t looking for a clever catch-phrase. I need to learn to be uncomfortable. Never again do I want to catch myself praying that God will send someone else.