What do you do when you feel out of your depth? When you have started a task or have an ambition that you're meant to fulfil, but you feel underskilled or unsuited for it. This week, a familiar story will show that using what you do have in the present moment is what really counts.
Missing the Point
In Exodus, Moses is asked by God to help free the Israelites from over four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Most of us know or have heard of the story of God speaking to Moses through ‘the burning bush’ but personally it all seemed a bit far-removed from life in the 21st century. Until I saw this conversation:
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
“If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” – Exodus 4 verses 1-10 (emphasis added)
At this point, I thought to myself, what on earth was wrong with Moses? The whole conversation was about the signs that God had given him to get the Egyptian leaders to take him seriously, but all he could focus on were his shortcomings. Moses’ fear and insecurity about not having the qualities that he perceived to be prerequisites for leadership, caused him to completely miss the point. The point being that all that he needed, at this stage in the journey, was literally already in his hand.
As a reader who knows how the story ends, it’s easy to roll your eyes at Moses’ lack of perspective. But it dawned on me that in life, a lot of us do the exact same thing.
When a great tasks or challenge threatens to take us out of our comfort zones, it’s easy to withdraw based on a lack of experience, ability or a general feeling of not being "the type of person" for the job. Little do we know, that desire comes from the One who made us more than able to achieve these things, no matter how out of reach they feel (Ephesians 3:20). (Not to mention the fact that God chooses people that can do the job, despite of how they may view themselves.)
Instead of focusing on and using what we have in the present moment, our thoughts become clouded by all the things we think that we're missing. If we spent more time nurturing what we currently have, we’d realise that it is exactly what we need to get us to the next step on the road to our final goal.
Filling the gap
Nevertheless, Moses did have point. At some point, he would need to be able to rally all the Israelites, and to do this successfully you need to be a convincing speaker. The second part of his conversation at the burning bush provides a glimpse into how God provides all the necessary tools you need once you take the first step and use what’s already ‘in your hand’.
Understanding and living according to who God really is will silence your insecurities
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?”
– Exodus 4:11-12
For those of us who say we believe in God – to what extent do we really live as if what we see in the Bible is true? It is filled with many different qualities and characteristics of God; in this case the Creator and Provider. If we truly believe this, then we are free to live with the expectation that as we go through life, God has the ability and willingness to equip us with all that we need. Trust that if you start something with God, He will help you complete it, despite your own hesitations (Philippians 1:6).
Some of what you need will come after you’ve made the first step…
“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. […] But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”
- Exodus 4:12-17
God tells Moses that 'now' he should go with what he currently has and only after that will the other tools that he’s missing be provided. This is reflective of life with Jesus in general: with every challenging step we make, God is there along the way giving us what we need for the journey - in increments. We rarely feel completely prepared for the next phase, until we get there. As long as you start making the most of what you have now, along the journey you grow and mature, doors and opportunities open, you learn new skills and eventually... you get there.
In short, it is okay to feel out of your depth when embarking on something that you know, deep down, you’re meant to do. Even in Moses’ insecure state, God had sent his brother who was ‘already on his way’ to meet him. This shows that God is also practical and does provide us with everything we need, but not always at the timing which we think is best.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
– Deuteronomy 31:8
For every obstacle and challenge you might perceive on the road to reaching whatever it is that you have in mind, the support, resources and solutions you need will come with every step you take. But you will never actually meet them on the way if you’re stuck standing still in one place, focusing on what you lack, instead of running with what you have.
So, what is in your hand?
What resources do you have now that can be put to good use that you’ve previously overlooked because they didn't ‘look right’?
Once you’ve figured that out, go. The rest will follow.
© Noterie, 2015