Excuse making is at the heart of disobedience. I am a professional excuse maker. Unfortunately, that’s my inheritance from Adam. He left me some nice things, like life, but also some bad things, like death through sin. In the death basket lays a ready-made excuse generator for hearts that want to preserve pride and avoid responsibility.
Moses received the same inheritance as me. Unfortunately for him, his dealings with God were recorded in the Bible, excuse making and all. We see it first in Exodus 4:10 after God calls him to go to Egypt and free his people.
But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Not being an eloquent speaker is a good reason for not standing before the most powerful man in the world. It makes sense. Most of us would shudder at giving a presentation to a room full of people, so to be shy to stand in front of Pharaoh makes sense to us. But the problem for Moses is that this is just an excuse. Yes, he’s not eloquent. But God has just told him to go. He has a power-vision problem. He holds the opinion of Pharaoh of more worth than the opinion of God. This isn’t humility; this is disobedience through excuse making.
God answers in Exodus 4:11-12,
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
God’s answer is so God-like. Ok, Moses, you’re not eloquent. Great. I’m the one who made your mouth.
Moses continues. Exodus 4:13
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”
His excuse didn’t work. Now he just flatly asks God to remove him from this responsibility.
The call of God on our life is not easy to accept. Sure, some parts are easy - like salvation and love - but the call to obedience and the call to mission is hard. The journey he takes us on is always surprising. It always costs us more than we are willing to pay. It is a higher mountain than we are able to climb. It is a more uncomfortable path than what we'd like. The call always has hard terms.
Moses understood this. He made excuses because he could not fathom going through with God's plan. It seemed too hard, too ridiculous, too risky. And it was. That's how God works. He uses us and calls us into ridiculously hard and risky things because he has a purpose of glory to reveal, and glorious things do not come easy.
Moses started with excuses and progressed to refusal. But in the end God used him anyway, because God, for reasons we can't fully explain, has determined to use sinners like Moses, and me, and you.
We may tell God to send someone else, but his grace is large enough and forceful enough to run through our objections and use us in spite of ourselves. After all, it is the Lord's work and he will accomplish his goals.