“You want me to do what?” It was all I could muster. For some reason, I didn’t immediately say no.
Being asked to speak at my college fellowship group felt like being asked to fill in for Billy Graham at one of his crusades. The mere thought made my palms sweat. The butterflies in my stomach turned to a flock of flapping birds. I was not public-speaking material. I was timid up front. I was shy and awkward before others. I didn’t aspire to stand up and address even small gatherings, much less large crowds.
Nonetheless, weeks later I found myself standing up, sharing with a group of my peers about prayer. God didn’t remove my inadequacies or my feelings of weakness. Instead, he began to work in my weakness.
Feelings of Inadequacy
How should you respond to your feelings of inadequacy? Maybe you just don’t believe that God can use someone like you. You’re from a dysfunctional family. You have too much baggage from your past. You’re a minority in a majority-led world. You’re too brash, too shy, too fearful, or too afraid to try.
Perhaps you’re not enough. You don’t think clearly enough. You don’t speak well enough. You don’t know enough. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have the platform, followers, endorsements, letters behind your name, or degrees on your wall. You sin too much. You doubt God’s willingness to use someone so weak. You’re ill-equipped for the task. What do you do?
Moses the Weak
Consider our old friend Moses. Although he was raised as royalty in the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation, he murdered a man and fled the consequences of his actions. He had been hiding out in the Midian protection program for forty years, thinking he had escaped his checkered past.
But God had other plans. Out of a burning bush that wasn’t burning quite right, God called Moses to go and deliver his people (Exodus 3:10). “Go back home, Moses. Go back from where you came from — where you have no honor and no esteem — to do my work. Go back to where you’re not wanted. Go back to the people you abandoned.”
Moses wants to interject, “You must be out of your mind,” but he doesn’t dare do so to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who has revealed himself in flame and spoken audibly. So Moses gives five objections and excuses:
- Who am I to go? (Exodus 3:11)
- Who are you that is sending me? (Exodus 3:13)
- The people won’t believe. (Exodus 4:1)
- I don’t have the skill. (Exodus 4:10)
- Please send someone else. (Exodus 4:13)
Essentially, Moses says, “You have the wrong guy. I’m not going.” At least a couple of Moses’s excuses were right. Moses was a nobody: an elderly foreigner laboring as a shepherd. And he was supposed to go to the most powerful ruler in the world to demand the release of God’s enslaved people? Not a chance. Not a glimmer of hope. Moses is outclassed, outmanned, outgunned, and out of his mind if he goes.
Moses also lacked any public speaking ability (Exodus 4:10). Perhaps he lacked confidence: his voice cracked, trembled, and wavered. Perhaps he had a speech impediment: a stutter, a stammer, or a lisp. Or perhaps he had lost his command of the Egyptian language after forty years of disuse. Whatever the reason, Moses’s objections held weight. Nonetheless, God had chosen his servant.
God’s Power for God’s Purposes
Moses offered every excuse, but God had none of it. Instead, God promises to go with Moses (Exodus 3:12). “You are a nobody, but I am Somebody, and I’m coming along with you.” God goes on to make known his powerful name, the suffering of his people, and how future events will unfold (Exodus 3:14–22). Not only does God do the commissioning, but he knows and holds the future. Nothing in the plan is up for grabs. God makes clear, “I’m in control.”
God goes on to give Moses signs of his power to validate Moses’s mission (Exodus 4:1–9). God makes clear it’s his power that is behind all ministry, all evangelism, and all labors to make Christ known. Our instinct is to be like Moses: “What if they don’t believe me?” Yet God has given you his power in the proclamation of his word and in the work of the Spirit. You can doubt your ability, but don’t mistake that for God’s ability to work through weak and inadequate disciples.
Moses’s speech impediment elicits a less sympathetic response. “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11). Wherever your disabilities rear their head, God can use you. Your limitations do not limit the limitless God. Our disabilities plus God’s ability equals limitless possibilities. Moses is told to stop looking at himself and behold the power and presence of the almighty God.
Savior of the Weak
Moses — in all his weakness and frailty — reminds us we have someone better. Moses was imperfect. Sadly, he never entered the Promised Land. But God raises up a better prophet who will lead us all the way home. Where Moses runs from the serpent in fear, Jesus crushes the head of the serpent. Where Moses wavers to go to his people, Jesus comes to suffer and to save the lost. Where Moses stutters and stammers to reveal God’s word, Jesus reveals it perfectly as the living and incarnate Word. Where Moses is reluctant, Jesus goes willingly to lay down his life for his sheep.
It is a glorious thing we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus became weak to make a way for God to save and now commission weak people to accomplish his glorious purposes in the world. So like Paul, we can say, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).