Making Excuses

It's what we do.

Exodus 4:1-9 (ESV)

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

First of all, know that this is all a ruse. Moses isn’t really worried about the people’s reaction; he’s worried about his own inadequacy. This is just him starting to open up and fret about what the LORD is commanding him to do.

Good. He is inadequate. That’s the point. God isn’t interested in displaying Moses’s great leadership skills; He’s interested in displaying His own glory.

Moses expects this to not go well because he expects everything to not go well. That’s just his attitude. God responds to Moses’s concerns by giving him some tricks that ought to convince anyone.

These tricks seem beneath God’s dignity – almost out of character – but He’s answering Moses’s objections directly and completely.

With those silly objections dispatched, Moses will be forced to open up and tell God what’s really bugging him.

We’re just as whiney as Moses is. God calls; we make excuses.

Yes, there are some Christians who really answered the call, but I’m not one of them. If you are, I don’t speak for you. The next two paragraphs may not apply.

But most Christians have never fully stepped out in faith and taken a big risk for the LORD. We’ve had moments when the idea crossed our minds – when something tugged at us – but after weighing the practicalities and our responsibilities, we decided to stay safe. That may not have even been the wrong decision.

Still, that choice leaves an annoying residue – a nagging embarrassment and fear that we let God down.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.