I like to be prepared for whatever I do. “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right,” is my motto. But there are often times when, frankly, I don’t think I’ve got what it takes. I see a need. I recognize what should be done. And I may even feel God nudging me to do something about it, but I just don’t feel qualified. Surely God will bring along a ringer to bail me out, I assure myself. Sometimes, that’s the voice of wisdom speaking. The reality is that we can’t do everything, neither should we. But other times, I’m convinced that it’s pride making me shrink back from opportunities to serve in weakness. Reading in the book of Exodus recently, has made me realize that I’m not the only one who does that. Rereading a familiar passage has challenged the way I see opportunities and God’s working in my life.
Most people are familiar with the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. God appears to Moses in the burning bush and calls him to go to Pharaoh and command him to let God’s people go. Moses brings up a number of fears that he has and God patiently answers each one. Finally, he offers God what he believes is a deal breaker when he says, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). We don’t know whether Moses actually stuttered or was just really bad at putting words together. He literally says that his mouth and tongue are heavy – and not in a good way.
I knew this part of the story. And I thought I knew God’s response to Moses. He asked Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth?” I thought what that meant was, ‘Look Moses, I made your mouth, so I can make you a great speaker if I want to.’ Rereading the passage recently, I realized that’s not what it means at all. That can’t be what it means because the next question God asks him is, “Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” The point isn’t so much that God makes us excel at everything, but that God is the One who gives us the limitations we have.
God had deliberately chosen Moses for the task that he called him to. Given Moses’ elite training among Egyptian royalty, it would have been easy for him to have been self-reliant. He might have been self-confident and figured he could barge into Pharaoh’s court on the basis of his abilities and credentials. This surely would have been a recipe for painful failure. And so God gave Moses a heavy tongue. He struggled as a speaker and he was tempted to take that as a sign that this was an opportunity he should pass on. But anytime you find yourself disagreeing with God, it shouldn’t take too long before you realize who’s in the wrong.
I’m coming to realize that weakness is a safe place for me. God wants me scared skinny so I depend on Him and trust in His power not my own. He wants me to step out and trust Him with the opportunities that He brings with the sense of, ‘Unless God bails me out of this, I’m sunk!’ God loves our helpless dependence on Him.
Joni Eareckson Tada has been a quadriplegic since her diving accident as a teen. She speaks and writes extensively and in one of her books she pictures a conversation with Jesus about her wheelchair. She writes, “The weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. It never would have happened had you not given me the bruising of the blessing of that wheelchair.” She’s honest in describing the reality of her suffering in the “bruising” of her wheelchair, but she’s come to see it as a blessing.
I don’t know where you feel your limitations today. Or where you’re tempted to say ‘No’ to God because of your perceived lack of qualifications, but I do know that God’s grace is sufficient for us and His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The God who gives us our limitations knows exactly what He’s doing.
In awe of Him,