Yes, fellow Christian, just sit back and relax. God is in control.
You want to end a conversation about the chaos in the world today? Utter these soothing words, “God is in control.”
Case closed. Go on to the next subject. Crab grass. Vacation. Car shopping. Whatever.
Then sit back and do absolutely nothing.
I read an article How to Write Your Own Personal Mission Statement by Jeff Iorg. Among the benefits of doing this was one that caught me off guard.
“Your personal mission statement puts limits on your ministry.”
Wait, I thought, doesn’t this put limits on what God can do through me? Why would anyone want to limit the possible ministry opportunities that might become available?
Is putting limits on ministry a biblical idea? After all aren’t we constantly encouraged to get out of our comfort zone? Aren’t we supposed to serve so far beyond our abilities that we need God’s help to be successful?
Maybe the problem with serving today is not getting out of our comfort zones. Maybe the problem is we don’t operate within our comfort zones.
Have you ever known someone who was just totally obnoxiously arrogant? You know what I’m talking about. They have that I-am-really-special persona. They’ve placed themselves on a pedestal. The only direction they look is down on everyone else.
In Exodus that person is Pharaoh.
Have you ever known someone who was obediently serving God but felt like they had to do everything themselves. You know what I’m talking about. They have that I-need-to-do-this-myself persona. The stress of doing it all has placed them on the floor. The only direction they look is up to everyone else who might see them as weak.
In Exodus that person is Moses.
In Exodus chapter 5, Moses confidently told Pharaoh to let the Israelites go on a three day journey into the wilderness so they could worship God. Pharaoh responded by increasing the workload of the Israelites. Not exactly what Moses was expecting. So he asked God why His plan had apparently backfired.
In chapter 6, God described a new relationship He would have with His people. He would no longer be God “up there” but God “down here.”
As we enter chapter 7, any self-reliance or self-dependence Moses had was now gone. Pharaoh would no longer be dealing with an exiled Israelite shepherd. In the first part of verse 2 of chapter 5, Pharaoh asked, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” Here we go!
In spite of his doubts expressed in Exodus chapter 3, Moses accepted God’s call to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt.
God’s call to Moses, and to each of us, is always optional. We can refuse. We can stay seated when God asks us to stand. He doesn’t force service on any of us.
But why would we refuse? If we truly believe God can be completely trusted doesn’t it stand to reason that anything He asks us to do should be done?
Moses must have thought so. We’re now in Exodus chapter 5. Moses and his brother Aaron stand before Pharaoh.
All scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.
And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” Exodus 5:1
God said it. Moses did it. That settles it. Done deal.
But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2
Do you ever feel like you may not be the right person for the job? You don’t feel qualified. You have no experience for the task at hand.
This can happen often in ministry. The initial feeling of being called by God to fulfill a need is often quickly followed by self-doubt, and sometimes God-doubt, as if God may not have thought this through. If you’ve ever had second thoughts about your area of service you have a kindred spirit in Moses.
All scripture passages are from the New American Standard Bible.
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” Exodus 4:1
Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:10
But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” Exodus 4:13
Burning bush aside, Moses just wasn’t convinced he was the man for the job. Really, can you blame him? God wasn’t asking him to pass out bulletins on Sunday morning. Convincing Pharaoh to let all that free labor leave town would not be a simple undertaking. Continue reading
We can learn a lot about life from Gilligan’s Island. If your memory is slightly fuzzy, allow me to briefly recap that television series.
The S. S. Minnow was a small boat used for tours lasting just a few hours. It was captained by Jonas Gumby known as “the skipper” with assistance from Gilligan, the skipper’s first mate. Gilligan’s first name was never revealed. One day five passengers boarded the Minnow, and their lives were forever changed.
Those joining the skipper and Gilligan were Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey who were beyond rich (Lovey: “Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.”), Professor Roy Hinkley, a high school science teacher who was taking a break before starting to write a book titled “Fun with Ferns,” struggling actress Ginger Grant, and Mary Anne Summers who was your basic “girl next door.”
As the story goes, the Minnow and all its passengers and crew were caught in a storm and shipwrecked on an uncharted island. There they would remain for several years.
You may wonder what this has to do with grace.
D-Day. June 6, 1944. Allied military forces invaded Normandy, France. The goal was to drive the Germans from France and ultimately destroy Hitler’s Nazi regime.
I read over some of my recent posts from Just Pilgrims and True Discipleship, and I confess they weren’t very encouraging. In fact, most were critical of us as individual Christians and critical of organized Christianity, the church. I expressed several times my realization that I have a long way to go before I’m living as Jesus expects me to live.
Let me be clear. Although this world is not our home and we are just pilgrims, being a true disciple of Jesus is not meant to be drudgery or an overwhelming burden. It’s not meant to be an energy sapping exhausting life. Not at all.