This past Sunday, I shared with my church a story from Exodus where Moses wants God’s assurance that he will be with him and the Israelites. He’s had an interesting time of leading the people of Israel on their journey through the wilderness. While communing with God in the chapter previous, the people of God get restless and ask Aaron to make something that they can worship. The end result is a golden calf.
In a very human moment, Moses comes down from his mountaintop experience with God to this idolatry taking place at the bottom of the mountain. In his anger, Moses takes the two stone tablets that God gave to him (yes, THOSE two stone tablets) and smashes them on the ground. He’s frustrated (to put it mildly) and he’s tired of these people who hardly seem like stellar examples of God’s chosen ones.
He tells God that he wants to know who is going with him on the rest of the journey. He wants God to assure him that his presence will be not just with him, Moses, but with all of the people. He wants some more details for the journey, but he’s got to settle for God’s promise of his presence and peace.
Moses resumes the journey and God is with the people of Israel.
I often wonder about our journeys and our plans, those of us who consider ourselves followers of Christ. We say that we want to put God first in our decisions and our plans, but sometimes we have a strange way of showing that. There are many times that we will go through and make all of our plans and then ask God to bless them. We can accomplish an awful lot in our own strength without really having to rely on God.
At the same time, there are times that we can couch our laziness or complacency in spiritual language.
Maybe you’ve heard it before or even used excuses yourself.
“Let me pray about it.”
“I’m seeking the Lord’s will.”
“I’m waiting for the Lord to speak to me.”
The list goes on and on. We can come up with all sorts of excuses for inaction, excuses for keeping us sitting on the couch and not moving. I don’t have enough money. It’s too risky. I don’t have time. I’ve got more important things to do. I don’t know enough about it.
We need to be careful not to over-spiritualize our decisions and suddenly let our spirituality lead us to inaction. It’s easy to say that we are praying over something or considering it, but we had better make sure that we’re really doing it rather than using it as an excuse to stay in our comfortable little world where we are protected, safe, and sound from change and other unwanted circumstances.
Sometimes, actually oftentimes, God calls us out of our comfort zones. He doesn’t call us to what is safe and convenient. Do we really expect that our faith will grow when we can work out everything on our own, when we don’t need to rely on God?
The safest place in the world isn’t necessarily in God’s will, it might be dangerous or scary, but in the midst of those circumstances, we’ve got the safest companion.
What’s God calling you to do? Where’s he calling you to step out in faith? Are you following him into unchartered territory or making spiritual excuses as to why not to go?
To be honest, I’ll confess that I’m still being worked on (or over, depending on how you look at it) in this area. I like comfort and safety. I like my creature comforts and the benefits of the First World in which I live. I’ve had friends who have abandoned those comforts to follow God into the Third World. They’ve sacrificed everything and I admire them. While I’ve had my fair share of sacrifices, I don’t want to rest on the laurels of yesterday while God may be calling me to something more challenging today.
It’s a constant struggle in which I continue to grow. Doing my best to not over-spiritualize the circumstances and situation. Doing all that I can to make sure that obedience wins out over comfort.
I’m a work in progress!