This blog is an excerpt from my book that will be coming out soon. The book is titled “Swallowed by a Whale – Twice. Facing Life’s unexpected Twists and Turns.” I hope you enjoy.
How do we respond when we sense God is asking us to do something? People respond to God’s nudging in several different ways. Obviously, the best response is to say “Yes” and do what God is asking you to do. A great example of this was Saul, on the road to Damascus, who was blinded by a bright light and heard Jesus talking to him and calling him to ministry. Saul followed God’s direction and changed his name to become Paul, an apostle and author of much of the New Testament. Many people don’t make this response for a variety of reasons such as fear, lack of faith, avoidance or distraction.
For me, when I first sensed God’s call to do something for Him, the response was “Not Now”. I had things that needed to be finished first. I had three kids in college with lots of tuition bills yet to pay. I had a good job, a great salary and I had my plan and future all figured out, or so I thought. Seven more years of work and I could retire from Target and then I would do whatever God wanted me to do. I would be in control because I would not have to worry about a salary and I could provide for my own expenses. I had “Golden Handcuffs”. I made too much money to ever think I could survive on a ministry income. I was in control and that was right where I liked to be.
My guess is that for many of us, this is the response we have given to God when He has asked us to do something for Him. We will do that when we have more time or when we finish something else first. We may not get on a boat and go in the opposite direction like Jonah, but we find things to occupy our minds and time so that we don’t think about what we are avoiding or running away from. Satan often fills out lives with busyness so that we do not have the time to hear God. And even if we hear Him, we think that there is no way we can do it.
However, I think the biggest reason why people don’t respond to God’s call is fear. Satan loves to fill us with fears, raising questions in our mind if we are good enough or capable to do what God is calling us to do. Moses is a great example of this. God called him to go and lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Five times Moses protested and said he was not qualified or good enough. God responded five times to Moses’ fears and objections. God’s responses to Moses should help us when we are dealing with our own fears when asked to do something for God. Our fears are really made up of our lack of faith and that creates the doubts that we have.
Here is the sequence of the Moses’ calling, his response and how God responded in Exodus 3. God talks to Moses through the burning bush and says the following:
“Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt. But Moses protested to God, Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:10,11 NLT
The first fear is Insecurity – Who am I? We all feel insecure when God asks us to do something. We don’t feel qualified to do what God calls us to do. However, God generally doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those He called. II Corinthians 3: 5-6 says it best:
“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant.”
I have to remind myself often that God calls us so that He will be glorified, but so often I forget this and think that I am doing something because I want to be glorified. God calls me as I am, totally unqualified, so that He can be glorified through what is accomplished through me. Remembering that should help overcome some of our fears. See how God responds to Moses.
And God’s response –
God answered, I will be with you. And this will be your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” Exodus 3:12 NLT
But Moses protested a second time.
But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” Exodus 3:13 NLT
The second fear is Credibility – Who sent me? What is my credibility to do the work of God? Will I be accepted? We deal with a world that doubts whether God even exists and if there really is a God. People are skeptical and are quick to question whether to accept your calling. This is something many of us feel. I don’t have the right education or background to do God’s work. I need to have a seminary degree so that people will know that I speak for God. How can I convince people to listen to or follow me?
God’s second response:
God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said this to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.” Exodus 3:14,15 NLT
God goes on to tell Moses that he will be accepted by the leaders of Israel and that the King of Egypt will need to be convinced. God will perform miracles and the people of Israel will be allowed to leave Egypt with great gifts given to them by the people of Egypt. But that was still not enough to convince Moses to act.
But once again Moses protests a third time.
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, “The Lord never appeared to you?” Exodus 4:1 NLT
The third fear – Failure – this has always been the fear that holds me back the most. I don’t want to fail, so it’s better to not try at all. We all can think of things that we have been led to do, but we say “no” because we don’t feel like we can do it well enough.
But God responds to this protest with a group of miracles that God will do through Moses – turning a staff into a snake, turning his hand into a diseased hand and then curing it and turning water into blood. But that was still not enough for Moses. He had a fourth protest:
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not even now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Exodus 4:10 NLT
The fourth fear – Public Speaking – this is a fear that I have struggled with most of my adult life. I feel that I am not a good speaker, I get nervous in front of people. This fear has held me back on many occasions. “Have someone else say it” or “They are better than me” are the lies that I have told myself.
I love God’s response in the next verse:
Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Exodus 4:11,12 NLT
If I could just remember those words and use them when I have struggles with my fears!
But Moses objected a fifth time.
But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Exodus 4:13 NLT
The fifth fear – Responsibility – I don’t want this pressure. “Use someone else.” This is the last hesitation, but often this is really the root of all the other objections. We just don’t want to do what God is asking us to do. This gets at the inner core of our faith and willingness to let go of our comforts and what we know as normal. So often, we don’t want to give up our control. This was what was holding me back. I liked my routine. I liked the income I had and the freedom that came with it. I thought I was doing enough for God as I was generous in my tithes and offerings, I attended church regularly and I served in various volunteer roles over the years. I learned that God didn’t want my things, God wanted me! And as I study the Bible and from my own experiences, I have learned that God gets what He wants one way or another.
Here is how God responded to Moses’s final objection.
Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.” Exodus 4:14-17 NLT
Notice in the end God did not let Moses off the hook. He provided a spokesperson to help Moses overcome his fears, but he still sent him on to complete what God wanted him to do. We may think our fears will change our calling, but, in reality, we are only delaying the blessing and joy that God has for us in following His lead.
- What are the fears you struggle with when you are wrestling with following God’s call for your life?
- What keeps you from saying “Yes” when you sense God is asking you to do something?
- How can you use God’s responses to Moses to help you overcome your own fears?