The Lord's body that I worship with has been reading through the Bible chronologically together and what a blessing it is. So, of course, I came to the passage in which God tells Moses he is chosen to lead the people out of bondage in Exodus 3. You are no doubt familiar with the passage where God tells Moses he has been chosen to lead God’s people. I ran across this passage last year and STOPPED….it hit me like a ton of bricks. I reread, and reread, and reread. You remember, Moses first tries to get out of it by acting humble and saying he is not worthy, then he wouldn’t know what to say and finally that he doesn’t have a “talent” for speaking, etc. In these verses I was struck deeply, and convicted by the attitude I saw in God’s frustration with Moses, “ So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses...” (Ex. 4:14 a). I thought of the great honor Moses was given to lead God’s people. Can you imagine being “tapped” by God to lead His people from bondage. What a honor! It can’t get any better than that, right? It means he was handpicked by the Almighty as a man worthy of leading His chosen people to safety. But, Moses refused; essentially saying: “no thanks, I’ll pass.” I thought…Really?! What prestige; what a gig. As I read Moses’ words, I heard my Lord asking me to step up and help: I heard our elders ask for Bible class teachers from the pulpit, I heard that someone was sick and in need, I heard the announcements reminding us of our shut ins, I heard…it again and again…and I heard my own voice offering excuses after excuses for refusing the work of my Lord, I heard my inner voice refusing the Lord. Now, if you were to talk to one of the members of the Lord’s church with whom I worship, they would no doubt say that I am a very active member. I actually considered myself one until I thought about all of my excuses again and again. Some might even comfort me with assurances: “you do so much more than others; besides, you can’t do EVERYTHING.” I realized pretty quickly, that my standard for involvement wasn’t the Lords. Too many comfort me, to make me feel better, but they were using a different standard, their standard was those who were doing less than I was. Is that to be my standard? My measurement for if I should do something for the Lord? Or my threshold for when I need an excuse? ( For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. II Cor. 10:12)
But, I also began to consider how we refuse our Lord when we neglect just as high of an honor as Moses: teaching precious little souls about their Creator, visiting those who are in need to bring comfort in their time of trouble, serving my brothers and sister with whome I will spend eternity and making their load a little lighter, offering living water to a parched and thirsty friend, and growing my talent so I am ready when the Lord has a need in His work and church.
I then did some soul-searching, some much needed, and too long avoided re-evaluating. It was kinda like a deep cleaning. You know, when you sit back, take a time-out and get out the magnifying glass and start digging and looking in every nook and cranny for the dirt, the dirt you know is there, but have pushed under the rug, or have dimmed the lights a little so no one can see. I uncovered those old standby’s, the excuses I always had handy and always worked like a charm, you know, you have them too: “Lord, you know I’m busy,” or “Lord, someone else would do a better job,” and the ever popular: “Lord, you know that’s not my talent.” I took another look at the passage before me: Then, I pictured myself standing before my Lord as He asked me to help, to do the tasks my elders asked of me. It is the same thing. That is, if my elders ask me to do it, if I refuse I refuse my Lord.
I find it ironic that we are willing to condemn Moses for his excuses and chastise him for refusing the Lord, and then offer our own when the Lord needs us (Matt. 6:33). Perhaps it has become our nature, or our talent, to make excuses when the Lord needs us. But, as I read these passages again and again, I couldn’t help but think of the time when our Lord prayed in the garden(Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42); when He asked His closest apostles to watch with Him through the night as He struggled with what was to come (“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’” Matt. 36: 38). They assured him that they would, but they didn’t, their excuse was they were tired (“Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” Matt. 26:40). They left their Savior alone in His anguish while He asked His father three times to excuse Him from His task (Matt. 26: 39); His task --dying for me, and you. I know from the reading that our Lord was tired. I know He was anxious. I know He had a great excuse for not doing it. Then I thought- what if the Father had “excused” our Savior from this horrible fate? What if our Savior refused because he was too busy, too overloaded/overwhelmed with many personal obligations, or just didn’t think it was His talent, or assumed someone else would do it if he didn’t? I am sure He had other things He could have been doing, His time was precious. I know it was painful and humiliating than anything I have ever, or will ever endure. The question then is: what if my Savior, the one who gave His blood to redeem me from my sinful self gave one of my pitiful excuses? What if He only gave as much as I do, or gave one of my excuses? What would be the fate of my soul?
Reading through the excuses of Moses was a great lesson for me. I realized the Lord doesn’t accept excuses. I realized that if I have an excuse, it had better be better than my Savior’s. I understand better what excuses really are, refusing my Lord. I understand that excuses won’t “excuse” me from the work my Lord has given me. I also understand that old saying even better now: one excuse is as good as another, right? Yeah, right….