“Excuses are like armpits…everybody’s gott’em and they all stink.” – Cowboy Proverb
If there is one aspect of my character that I abhor, and am trying to make strides in, is my ability to make excuses. When it comes to excuses, I’ve got them made up for stuff I haven’t even committed to yet. Car trouble, sickness, you name it…I’ve used it. I often wonder what my infatuation with the excuse is. I think it’s this: I fear transparency, openness, ownership and ultimately, truth.
Excuses happen because we don’t want to tell the real reason it went the way it did.
My diabetes has made me the biggest excuse maker ever. There is no reason I should eat a sleeve of oreo’s for lunch. Chalk it up to indulgence, lack of self-control, or gluttony. But if you preface it by saying “my blood sugar’s low” then it is an act of survival. Excuses.
Excuses didn’t start there. “I ran outta daylight”, “truck problems”, “dog ran off”, “didn’t have the time”, “didn’t have the right tools”. Excuses have become the currency of the busy, the overly committed, and the fearful. People like…me.
This is where Moses and I have the same personality. Moses, as he was shepherding his sheep, came upon a bush that was on fire but not being consumed (Ex 3.1-3). When the bush called to him, he came near. God spoke:
“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and…I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Ex. 3.7-8,10)
God was ready to do something…he only needed to convince Moses. Moses, however, had to exhaust his excuses.
Excuse 1: “Who am I?” (Ex. 3.11) He was a former prince of Egypt and murderer, but I don’t think that is his problem right now. Right now, he is a shepherd. He is not the kind of guy who would have a conference with Pharaoh. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but he was God’s. ! Samuel 16.7 comes to mind. How many times, when its clear that God desires us to do something that we respond with “Who am I?” “I’m not smart enough, trained enough, compassionate enough, ____________________ (fill in the blank) to share my faith with someone.” “God, I don’t have enough time, money, experience, resources, training, __________(fill in the blank) to serve in that ministry.” I catch myself using these excuses far too often. Moses go to excuse, is often mine.
Excuse 2: “Who are you?” (Ex. 3.13) God answered his last excuse by promising His presence and a sign. The problem is: would you feel good about a going to a fight with me alongside of you promising to protect you? NO! Moses wants to know who is going with him. “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘the God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ then what shall I tell them?” (3.15) The Hebrews have been calling out to the Lord for years under the yoke of slavery and wondering if the Lord was listening. Now Moses is going to show up with Him in tow, but wants some more specifics on his character and identity.
Excuse 3: “What if…?” What if’s have ruined great opportunities. What if the “what if” questions had taken root in the disciples…would the Church have taken the direction it did? What if the “what if” had taken root in William Wilberforce’s life? Slavery, probably, would have continued in England for many years without his passionate abolition. The “what if” question is countered by God giving Moses a sign. When has God worked in your life?
Excuse 4: “I don’t have…” Moses isn’t a man of words and never has been. Speaking with the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh requires a well-spoken individual. But God gave Moses his mouth and will now give him the words to say. Our excuses, or better yet our deficiencies, are things that we hide behind when the opportunity for ministry presents itself. Sometimes our areas of greatest weakness can be God’s greatest triumph. Make the effort, at least once, to step out into a ministry that challenges you at a place where God will be the success in ministry.
The Real Reason: “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (Ex. 4.13) The heart of the matter is Moses really didn’t want to go. Excuses are the straw men to discussion. The real issue, like so many others in the journey of faith, is one of the heart. Deep down, Moses really didn’t want to go where God was leading.
The reason’s for not doing ministry, not following where God is working, or just not wanting to go where He is leading, is too big for one excuse to cover. Moses came up with four on the spot as a reason for not wanting to go to Pharaoh. But Moses, just like us often, was grasping for straws in making excuses, covering up the issue of the heart.
When things change in our heart; things will change in our ministry opportunities. The give-and-take between Moses and God gave Moses the confidence before Pharaoh to speak and perform. Where is there an opportunity to serve that you shroud in excuses to avoid it? Is there a burden on your heart that you dismiss with problems and obstacles? Have excuses covered the issue of the heart?
When it comes to following God’s leading…I have a lot of armpits, but its really just a heart condition.