I would hazard a guess that you and I approach our big decisions in the same way. We protect ourselves from failure by attaining the knowledge and resources we need before acting. We want to be sure of the outcome before we take the risk. It gives us control. Anybody with a hint of common sense would make their decisions that way. Go with that method and it’s all fine and dandy, until you factor in a God who seems to be a little reckless with the risks he asks us to take at times. Then what do you do?
My wife and I have been reading through the stories of the Old Testament recently and have stumbled across a recurring collision between this ingrained need for “sureness” and the activity of God in our lives. I want to highlight three of those collisions. One of them is actually sort of humorous. Let’s start with that one.
Most people are at least a little familiar with the story of Moses. If you’re not, check out the first chapters of the book of Exodus. We’re catching up with him after he’s fled Egypt, where the Hebrews were slaves, and is living comfortably as a shepherd in the land of Midian. At this point Moses probably thinks he’s done with Egypt and isn’t planning to visit again. Then one day, he’s out watching the sheep and sees a bush that’s on fire, but is not burning up. He gets closer, and the God that Abraham knew starts talking to him.
He tells him, “My heart is moved for my people. I haven’t forgotten them. I want to set them free and guess what, I want you to be my representative to Pharaoh.” Moses looks around and says, “Who? Me?! You’ve gotta be kidding! I don’t have the credentials or the resume for this kind of thing!” God says, “Nope, you’re the man I want.” And this is the part I love. While Moses is grabbing his inhaler, ’cause God’s probably given him an asthma attack with this idea, God says, “Look, let me give you some proof that I’m going to be with you in this.” Here’s what he says, literally.
“I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain.”
I can just see Moses going silent for a minute trying to figure out if he’s heard it right. And then going, “Are you kidding me?! You’re telling me to march straight into a king’s palace and tell him, ‘God’s given me the authority to take your entire workforce out of the country for good’. Mind you, I killed a man the last time I was in Egypt and probably still have a warrant out for my arrest!” Moses stops to take a breath so he doesn’t start hyperventilating again. Then he continues, “…and the big proof that’s supposed to make me feel confident about all this is that after, not before, but AFTER, I put my reputation and my life on the line, I’m going to be standing here with the Israelites thanking you?!!!” And then God goes, “…Yep, that about sums it up… Whadya say?” Okay, that’s not in the Bible, but that’s how I probably would have responded. How bout you?
It seems that, to God, this reassurance should have been all that Moses needed to march right back to Egypt. Of course Moses wanted a little more convincing. He kept lobbing up excuses and God blasted each one out of the sky, patiently choosing not to let Moses miss out on the adventure.
The point here is that there are times in which we recognize a problem and know what we should do, but we just don’t know how it’s ever going to work out. We wait for a sign or for enough money or for a certificate that says we have the knowledge to undertake the task. Most times, the right choice is to be practical and line those things up first. Then there are other times, when you can sense that something bigger is at work behind the scenes. It’s at those times when, just like Moses, God is offering you the opportunity to take a risk based on his word and character alone. It’s in those times when he’s saying, “I will be with you. And here’s your proof: after you make it through this, you’ll worship me.” And it’s really no proof at all, but it’s all you need.
We’ll talk more in a few days, but I’d love to hear what you think about all this. Have you ever faced a decision that you felt totally unprepared for? How did you make your choice?