A new year brings fresh outlook and a world of possibilities! There are resolutions to be made and calendars with lots of empty spaces just waiting to be filled. For the most part, we come up with these ideas on our own, but then there are other activities which are passed on to us unexpectedly. Some people have trouble saying “yes” to too many things, but I am not one of those people. I’m more like the queen of excuses. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I do! My mind just automatically jumps to a myriad of what ifs and every possible conflict.

Moses (at least at this point in his life) had the same proclivity. In Exodus 3, when God first told him to approach Pharaoh about releasing the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, he immediately came up with a “Why me?” excuse (v. 11). It seems Moses felt unqualified. After God assured him He’d be with him, Moses then came up with a “but what if they…” scenario. Upon full explanation from God of what to expect, we see another “what if” in 4:1, followed by further assurance from God, and miracles to boot! But Moses still had excuses. In 4:10, there’s an “I can’t because…”, and finally in verse 13, a “please pick someone else for the job!” And after all the stalling Moses could muster, it ultimately came down to God’s will. The Lord commanded “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

As a noun, the word excuse is “a plea…for release from an obligation”. As a verb, it means “to pardon or forgive”. From our excuses to God’s excusing, His plan will be accomplished; His will be done. For Moses, God allowed his brother Aaron to be the mouthpiece. But Moses still had to go and eventually, through obedience, he gained enough confidence to do God’s speaking himself.

Parents understand the importance of giving instructions for a child’s well-being. We say things like: “look both ways before crossing the street”, “don’t play with fire”, “brush your teeth”. Children don’t necessarily understand the effects of their disobedience. When God says, “do this” or “don’t do that”, it’s because He wants the best for us. As a good, good Father, He offers direction to spare heartache and trouble. His commands are for our benefit and protection. And when we mess up, as children will, He keeps on loving and encouraging. But when we are stubborn, we must learn the hard way – a longer and more difficult journey than could have been, but one necessary for training and attitude adjustments.

There are times when we all, like Moses, must face difficult circumstances. However, sometimes we “get to” opt out of an assignment. In those times, understand that God will get the job done, only… someone else will receive your blessing and you will never know what you missed out on, including that deepening bond with the Lord, which is gained through experience, because obedience increases faith. Proverbs 16:1 tells us, “The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” I have always found great comfort in this promise, knowing God has the final say. But, look what Matthew Henry states in his commentary on this verse, “God easily can, and often does, cross men’s purposes, and break their measures.” A perfect example of this is found in Numbers 22, when Balaam intended to curse that multitude who came out of Egypt but instead, ended up spouting abundant blessings over them. Surprise! If your plan is heading in a direction opposed to God’s desire, buckle up for a sharp u-turn.

There are so many good ways to fill a calendar, but good is not always best. Does it already seem too complicated? Perhaps some activities are your idea (or someone else’s) and not God’s plan. Ask your Father’s opinion before jumping into a challenge. Routines and obligations are way too easy to fall into and just as problematic as making excuses; Each keeps us from our God-given tasks. Too often drudgery or burnout necessitate stepping down from a commitment when all along that burden was meant to be someone else’s blessing. Pray. And if that’s the case, pass the baton. But, consider carefully… Are you making excuses? Not to people – to God. When we let God fill the empty spaces, the result is peace, satisfaction and joy. Don’t miss out on all the Lord has for you!

One of my favorite quotes is, “Procrastinators, unite! …Tomorrow.” But honestly, as Moses eventually discovered (and I’m still learning the hard way), stalling only wastes time and energy. Not to mention, after all we’ve been excused from through Jesus, how could we offer back lame excuses? Let’s resolve to respond with an immediate, resounding “Yes!” knowing God…is…able. May this truth compel us to go when God says “Go”, because even when we feel undone, His plan is not. Where we fail, God will prevail!

SHINE, always