Moses and I have a lot in common. We’re good at throwing our weaknesses in God’s face.
Moses learned his lesson once (I think). Me? I’m a slow learner.
Recently, a University student ministry group asked me to speak at their spring semester Women’s retreat. The group wanted to hold the event at my church facility and asked if other ladies could help organize the craft table. One thing led to another, and somehow, I was in charge of choosing, organizing, and teaching the craft as well as speaking.
One problem. I don’t do crafts.
I can’t draw a straight line crooked, I tell people. See? I don’t even know the difference between a crooked and a straight line.
I whined to my Bible study group the day before the event that I needed lots of prayer because, as I’ve said too many times, I don’t do crafts and I’m really nervous about this.
Then I proceeded to facilitate our study from Exodus 1-8. We reached the section in Exodus 4 where Moses argues with God about his ability to do the job God called him to do. I asked, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘I can’t do such-and-such because __________ (fill in the blank)’?”
One woman told how she was once asked to oversee meals on a short term mission trip to Mexico even though cooking is not her favorite thing. Then I launched into the story of how I became a Christian educator.
Another Moses Moment
I was 18 years old. My pastor called mid-afternoon to ask me to teach the children’s session at our church’s state convention that evening. I had helped my mother many times in Junior Church but had said adamantly, publicly I would never be a teacher. My mother taught. My sister taught. I wanted to be different.
Yet Pastor Shaffer was asking me to teach. I said yes, because you never say “no” to your pastor, right? Remember, I was only 18 years old. But I was offended. He must be scraping the bottom of the barrel if he was asking me. “I can’t teach,” I told my mother. “Teaching is not my thing. I don’t want to do this.”
She tried to help, suggesting I do what I did know to do well – lead songs, play games, do a puppet show (I was into puppet ministry and storytelling at that time). In answer, I stalked to my bedroom and slammed the door.
“Then,” I told my group of Bible study ladies, “The Holy Spirit reminded me of Exodus 4:12.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”Exodus 4:11,12 NIV
“And you all know that I have become a Christian educator, written Christian education curriculum, and gone far beyond my mother and sister,” I concluded. “But it was because I initially said “no” to God and moved forward out of my weakness, not my ability.”
My voice trailed off. The ladies were smiling more than the story warranted. “And I guess I need to apply that lesson to a certain craft table?” My voice was meek and weak.
“Uh huh.” several chorused. And laughed.
Great. Forty years later and I still haven’t learned. But this one was going to take a lot more faith because I really don’t do crafts. It’s one spiritual gift I don’t care to cultivate.
First, God sent me an Aaron. The short term mission trip lady offered to come that evening to help any way she could. My adult daughter encouraged me to tap into the participants’ artistic ability. “Present the craft and see what they do with it,” she encouraged. It was good advice. The women went far beyond my initial instructions and created beautiful pictures of bible verses they will treasure. The results were utterly awesome.
Better yet, one of the young women made a connection between the craft and the message I had brought, a connection I had not intended to make. The craft I didn’t even want to present became a visible reminder of the message I spoke. God had it planned all along.
And I survived. I even prevailed.
Doing What God Calls Us To Do
Yes, we need to evaluate and use our natural abilities and spiritual gifts for the good of God’s Kingdom. We also need to answer God’s call to do what we think we cannot do. In doing so, like my teaching, God may be calling us to cultivate and develop the spiritual gift He has bestowed on us. Or He may be using us as weak vessels to become a small but crucial part in His bigger plans so that it becomes obvious the successful results get credited to Him, not to us.
It’s s not easy to do what we don’t do well. The learning process is difficult. We feel clumsy and uncertain, fearful of the criticism of those who could do it so much better. We don’t want to lose face, looking unqualified in front of those who are looking to us for direction, and we certainly don’t want to make God look bad either. It takes a measure of faith to believe that our measly efforts will have any benefit if we can’t even do the job in the first place.
God’s definition of accomplishment is different from ours.
The success of the craft table was not in how perfect the projects turned out but in how the message of the weekend was conveyed. When I surrendered myself to God’s plans, no matter how skilled or unskilled I thought I was, God worked in a mighty way within the hearts and lives of those young women.
What has God called you to do? Do you feel qualified? That’s not what God is looking for. God wants most of all a humble spirit, willing to follow His lead, not our own agendas. Like turning a mustard seed into a big tree, He can take your tiniest efforts coupled with your faith as expressed by your willingness to trust Him and do great and mighty things through you.