April 7, 2012

Gigantic challenges avoided by gigantic excuses

If I dare to examine myself, much is revealed by the things that detour or block me from doing things. For instance, I often procrastinate over a difficult project. This reveals that I’m not sure what to do next or how to do it. Instead of finding out, or just getting started, I find something else and leave that project unfinished.
Most of the time, the detours happen because I take my eyes off the God who can do all things (and help me do all things) and put them on myself only. Then I see my weaknesses and want to quit. This is faith misplaced and the source of all my excuses. 

I see this in the nation of Israel after they came out of Egypt. They stood on the borders of the land God promised them. They sent in spies to check out the land. The spies came back with their eyes on what they had seen and their interpretation of it, instead of remembering the promises and power of God.
And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan… And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:27–29, 33)
I can relate to this report of giants in the land as I think back on many opportunities and ambitions from which I became derailed. I could have written a book (or more than one), but who am I and it is too hard and I’m not sure I know what I am doing. I could have stayed with painting wildlife, but there are many other artists who can do this better than I, and I don’t have time or funds to travel and become well-acquainted with the subject matter. I could have hung out my shingle as a graphic artist, but I’m not skilled at the self-promotion needed to make sales. The list is longer, but these alone tell me how strong I’ve viewed the obstacles and how small I’ve felt in my own eyes.

Having a humble view of self isn’t a bad thing, but not when it is used as an excuse. Better to be like Jonathan when he took his armor-bearer and went up against the Philistines. “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6) 

Jonathan could count, as could his armor-bearer. He replied, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” (1 Samuel 14:7) They knew they were completely outnumbered, but that did not stop them. As they entered the enemy camp and made their initial strike, “There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.” (1 Samuel 14:15) 

When God is in the equation, nothing is impossible. This means that if He wanted me to write books, or climb mountains, or whatever, then it could be done. The trouble with making excuses is that it blurs that very important issue: Does God want me to do this? 

How can I hear His voice when my mind is already saying no?

Lord, I will likely never know how my life has been affected by looking at the size of the obstacles instead of looking at You and Your power, and hearing Your voice regarding the steps You want me to take. I can only say, I believe. Forgive my unbelief and help me keep my eyes on the might of my God instead of the size of my challenges.

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