Humility and Asking the Right Questions
“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
That sounds like a line from a coward. Something that you and I might say when God calls us to do something monumental. It is doubtful to think that such a line could come from a person with great faith.
Yet it does.
GREAT FAITH OR LITTLE FAITH?
“13 But he [Moses] said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else’” (Exodus 4:13 ESV). Moses is one of the few people included in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith. A man who by faith “left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27 NIV). It was that Moses. It was that Moses praying a cowardly prayer.
Why do we find a man said to be of great faith, here at one point in his life, praying with so little? Oh, and it was not the first time. In chapter three, he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 ESV). Wow. That definitely sounded like a man of faith to me. (I’m being sarcastic, just in case someone missed it.)
Let’s take a look at chapter five where Moses blames God for everything. “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?” (Exodus 5:22 ESV). Well, that was less than encouraging at first glance. He basically said, “Lord, you’re wrong. You made a mistake by choosing me.”
BEYOND WHAT YOU SEE
A surface investigation of the text makes it seem that the Bible was wrong to call Moses a man of faith. In this case, we must see past the shallow waters. We stare, we don’t just glance. In fact, it was a repetitive reading of the text that brought great encouragement to me.
Why? You might ask. Because, for one, God honors Moses’ faith in spite of his early short comings. Charles Spurgeon once gave a beautiful illustration of faith and holiness using days and nights. Think of how an entire twenty four hours is called a day, even if a part of that day is the dark of night. In a similar fashion, Christians today are still called holy in spite of sin still present in their lives. I am encouraged because God looks at us today, those of us in Christ and covered by His righteousness, and says we are pleasing. We still sin, but because of Christ we are holy before God.
Secondly, I know for a fact that there is such a thing as character development. At one time, Moses was a confident young man who was ready to become a deliverer (at least, he thought he was). When he saw a Hebrew being harassed, he killed the Egyptian oppressor. The young Moses oozed with confidence.
After a short episode of playing young and mighty, he was basically booted off to the wilderness, a place where he would know the meaning of brokenness. None of the swagger from young Moses would be left. All that would be left was this person devoid of self, a person who has been utterly brought low. Humbled beyond compare.
After all the drama, we find that, in due time, the Moses that once pleaded to not be sent for God’s purpose, could utter words such as: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again” (Exodus 14:13 ESV). Nearly nine chapters later we find that the doubting Moses could not be seen anywhere. There was a real sense of faith, a trust and confidence that God had built.
How could this happen?
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Moses would realize this, I think, because of one simple truth. That is, the need to ask the right questions. “11 But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ 12 He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain’ “(Exodus 3:11-12 ESV, emphasis added).
I believe that Moses, when he heard that he was called to do something big, first looked inward and saw a discouraging reality. He saw himself insufficient. Maybe this was the reason for God to use him, for he saw his lack. That is a rare thing to see today. Most of us like to think of ourselves as sufficient.
Moses asked the wrong question. It is not “Who am I?” that matters. The real question is “Who are you with?” It was never about Moses. The story you are in now isn’t about you either.
WHEN YOU CAN’T, GOD CAN
So, I am encouraged. Why? Because if the man of great faith had fears and doubts, what more could I expect from myself? What more could you expect from yourself? You and I are not Moses. And even Moses had problems.
Moreover, I am encouraged because I know that this God uses situations to drive out our wretchedly high view of ourselves. Reader, when God calls you, you will feel insufficient. When he asks you to do something that feels big, you will see your lack. Rightfully so. But remember, God uses broken people, not the hotshots.
I leave you with this. If you think that you can, you most probably can’t. And if you think that you can’t, then you are precisely in the place where God shows up big.