Spiritual Growth

Are You Resisting God’s Call?

Often when God chooses us to do something great, our initial response is to resist.

By Charles R. Swindoll, excerpted from What If . . . God Has Other Plans?: Finding Hope When Life Throws You the Unexpected 

Resistance comes from our belief that we know the situation better than God does. We’re happy to have God take care of situations for us. We just don’t want to be His primary instrument. Why? Because we think we know better than He does what’s required for the job. Pay close attention: the best ten years of your life may still be ahead of you, but maybe you’ve already begun to talk yourself out of what God has planned for you. Like Moses, you have mounted a calculated resistance against God’s clearly stated will for you and for your family.

If that’s you, I know exactly how you feel. I was the least likely candidate imaginable to do something for God. I wasn’t a great student or athlete as a boy. I wasn’t very significant on my high school campus. I certainly didn’t distinguish myself as a hero during my years in the Marine Corps. I was just another Marine. Yet out of a bush came a voice calling me to ministry. My first response was, “I’ve heard this ­before—​­but from my wife, not from You, Lord. She has urged me toward the ministry, but I’ve resisted.” (I didn’t think I was qualified, and my inferiority prompted my resistance.)

So often when God chooses us to do something great, our initial response is to resist. To push back against His plan. To doubt our readiness and qualifications. Moses was no exception. He responded with four common excuses for resisting God’s clear call.

I Don’t Have All the Answers

Moses feared he wouldn’t be able to answer the inevitable questions that would come from his fellow Israelites:

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

The first common excuse for resisting God’s call is that we don’t have all the answers. Moses protested God’s plans by saying, “They’re going to ask me things I won’t know. I’ll be dealing with issues way above my pay grade! Remember, I’ve only been talking to sheep for these past forty years!”

Human nature tries to convince us that unless we have all the answers, we simply can’t believe God’s plan for us. At this point, Moses considered himself the most important factor in the equation. It was all about him. That’s at the core of such resistance. When you are still important to you, you fear losing face. You’re afraid of hurting your reputation. You’re afraid of what people will say or think. You’re afraid of being ridiculed. You fear your family’s response to what you believe God is choosing you to do. What will your peers think? Yet God is undeterred by such fearful responses. His reply to Moses explains why:

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?”

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

—EXODUS 3:13-14

Isn’t that a great answer? “I AM.” That will cover most of the questions. Moses needed to understand that God’s call had nothing to do with him and everything to do with God! The only answer he needed was God Himself. Speak His name, and all the answers will fall into place.

I recall a conversation I had with my longtime friend Dr. Ron Allen, a Hebrew scholar and a professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He offered a compelling insight into this passage. He told me that when the ancient Hebrews were representing someone before others, they would use the expression “I will speak your name.” In other words, instead of saying, “I will remember you,” they’d say, “I will speak your name.” In essence, that’s what God was telling Moses to do. God told Moses to simply speak His name. I find that truly ­remarkable—​­and wonderfully relieving!

When God chooses you to do something great, your response should not be about you (“I can’t”) but rather about Him (“I AM!”).

Such an approach provides courage and confidence like nothing else. When I preach and teach the Scriptures, I often feel inadequate and unworthy. Yet I don’t stand and speak from one Sunday to the next representing myself. I have nothing but an opinion, and it’s no more valuable than yours or anyone else’s. But when I speak from God’s Word, the I AM of the Scriptures is speaking. That truth provides great confidence for what I do and say.

But Moses wasn’t through resisting with his excuses. Here’s the second excuse he used to resist God’s plan.

I Don’t Have All Their Respect

Even after God’s clear explanation of who was sending him, the reluctant old shepherd persisted in his resistance. He feared he would not have the respect of God’s people. Moses’ response reveals his profound sense of inadequacy.

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

You’d think that Moses would have been convinced by now. But don’t forget: he was eighty years old. No doubt he was fairly set in his ways. In fact, his response is filled with several classic ­what-​­if statements. Those are what I call “worry words.” Fear does ­that—​­it clouds our perspective and causes us to think of the ­worst-​­case scenario.

What was Moses worried about? He was worried about himself, and he was worried about how the Israelites would view him. That’s a ­self-​­image problem. Fear keeps the focus on ourselves rather than on the Lord. It emphasizes our inadequacies and minimizes God’s power. It’s no wonder God responded with multiple demonstrations of His power:

The LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.

“Throw it down on the ground,” the LORD told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.

Then the LORD told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.

“Perform this sign,” the LORD told him. “Then they will believe that the LORD, the God of their ­ancestors—​­the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of ­Jacob—​­really has appeared to you.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out again, his hand was white as snow with a severe skin disease.

“Now put your hand back into your cloak,” the LORD said. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.

The LORD said to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign. And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.”

—EXODUS 4:2-9

Why did God go through this elaborate demonstration? To convince Moses he’d have everything he needed to do what was asked of him.

The Lord’s answer was, “Just go, Moses. Take your staff, and stand back and watch Me work. Don’t worry. You will have all My power.”

God speaks that same truth to you, too. Especially when He chooses you to do something great. He not only provides His clear plan, He provides His unlimited power to accomplish what He asks.

Surprisingly, Moses followed with yet another objection.

I Don’t Have All the Ability

Still unconvinced, Moses raised another concern with the Lord’s plan, pleading, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get ­tongue-​­tied, and my words get tangled” (EXODUS 4:10).

Moses used a classic resistance tactic: “I don’t have all the ability.” Apparently Moses stuttered, and he’d grown very ­self-​­conscious about it. That disability became an issue in his mind when he was considering God’s plan, which primarily entailed public speaking. Notice God’s response:

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

God’s reply completely dismantled the foundation of Moses’ fear: I made you that way. God reminded Moses that He was the one who had ordained everything about Moses, even his apparent disabilities, leaving Moses without excuse.

So many people I meet struggle in this area, questioning God’s design for their life, thinking,

I’m not attractive.

I’m too short.

I’m not that bright.

I struggle with depression.

I have a fear of speaking in public.

I, I, I, I . . .

All such objections lose their power in the face of God’s sovereign design for our lives. He has made us as we are so that He can be powerful in and through us (see Psalm 139).

Read that last sentence again. That truth alone has the power to transform your concept of a disability.

I’m sure Amy Carmichael must have battled similar fears and negative thoughts. Yet God chose her to do something great. He enabled her to accomplish remarkable things, despite her physical limitations, one day at a time.

I’ve experienced days when the same has been true for ­me—​­days when, despite my lack of readiness, my sense of inadequacy, or my fear of failure, God has enabled me beyond my ability. I’ve spoken truths that I never wrote down or planned to say in my sermon. I recall times when I’ve felt strength to accomplish a task that was not from myself. Such extra measures of energy could only have come from God’s enablement.

God said to Moses, “I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Isn’t that a magnificent ­promise—​­for Moses and for us?

By now, Moses was running out of excuses. Yet somehow he found a way to present one final objection.

I’m Not as Qualified as Others

Moses’ final response invoked God’s anger.

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” 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.”

—EXODUS 4:13-15

The Lord doesn’t need anything “special” from you or me. He certainly doesn’t need our counsel. When He sovereignly chooses you to do something great, He doesn’t need your advice on how to go about it. Moses failed to grasp that truth, and we often do too. We get so caught up in our excuses that we miss the entire point of God’s call. He wants to accomplish something great through us by doing something great in us. Often part of God’s purpose in choosing us is to grow our faith and deepen our trust in His power.

Moses’ response wasn’t so much humble as disobedient. It demonstrated a gross lack of faith. When you know for sure that the Lord is speaking and you don’t take Him at His word, you’re crossing a line. That’s not humility; that’s disobedience. In fact, it borders on defiance! The only appropriate response to God’s call is obedience. That’s the lesson Moses needed to learn.


What If . . . God Has Other Plans?: Finding Hope When Life Throws You the Unexpected by Charles R. Swindoll

What if your life hasn’t turned out the way you dreamed it would? Popular Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll invites you on a journey through Scripture, exploring the hope the Bible offers to those who are dealing with life’s unexpected detours. Life can be humming along as usual, and then in a matter of seconds, everything falls apart. Maybe you have experienced sudden loss. Perhaps there is a heart-breaking betrayal. Maybe you are taking care of a family member with a disability and you never imagined in a million years that you would be doing such a thing. Life rarely follows our rules for it. There are U-turns and S-curves none of us are prepared to endure. This book is Chuck Swindoll at his best, opening Scripture and finding hope and wisdom for those who are struggling with the unexpected situations life has thrown at them.
What if . . . God has other plans for your life? What if . . . you are designed for something more?

Learn More HERE

Bethany was raised on a mini farm in Indiana where she fell in love with nature, faith, and imagination. Since then, she was employed as a marketer for the Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis & Friends before graduating with a Marketing and Management double major from Taylor University and joining the ranks of Tyndale House Publishers. Among her many interests are painting, listening to AIO, riding horses, and basically living the dream.

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