Moses and Me
Part 2: When You Feel Inadequate
Pastor Morris Brown
June 10, 2018
So maybe you’ve heard the story about the man who thought he had an inferiority complex? He went to see a psychiatrist and get some help. The psychiatrist had him sit down on the couch and discuss his feelings. When he was done the psychiatrist said, “Sir, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.”
“What’s the good news?” the man said.
“Well,” the doc said, “the good news is you don’t have an inferiority complex!”
“Great!” the man replied, “What’s the bad news?”
“Well,” the doc said, “the bad news is you REALLY ARE INFERIOR!”
Can I ask you something? Have you ever felt like the man in that story? Have you ever felt inferior, inadequate? Have you ever felt like you didn’t measure up? Have you ever doubted your ability to accomplish what God may be calling you to accomplish in life? If so, this morning’s message, which is the second in our Moses and Me worship series, may be just what you need.
If you were here last week you know that Moses’ story begins about 80 years before the text we read this morning. Moses was born in Egypt, the child of Hebrew slaves. Around the time he was born the Pharaoh of Egypt issued a decree that all Hebrew boy babies be killed by throwing them in the River Nile. In an attempt to save his life, however, Moses’ mother placed him in a basket along the banks of the river. And by God’s grace, Moses was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter who decided to raise him as her own.
Over the next forty years Moses lived in the Pharaoh’s palace where he grew into a fine young man. But, one day when he was out walking he spotted an Egyptian slave master mistreating a Hebrew slave. Moses was so upset by this he lost control. He killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Unfortunately, someone saw Moses do this. So, to avoid arrest, Moses decided to flee the land of Egypt.
Escaping into the wilderness, he met a group of nomads who took him in. In time, Moses married one of the nomad’s daughters, and for the next forty years he worked as a shepherd for his father-in- law and raised a family. One day, however, Moses is tending his father-in-law’s sheep on a mountain called Horeb. And there he has what can only be described as a mystical experience. He sees a bush that is “on fire” but not being consumed. So, he investigates. And when he does, he hears a voice. It is the voice of God, who says, “Take off your shoes for you are standing on holy ground.”
Then the voice says, “Moses, I have heard the cry of my people in Egypt. They are suffering and I want to help them. So, I’m going to send you to tell Pharaoh to let my people go. I want you to lead my people out of slavery to a land I’ve promised them.”
Now, you would think that Moses would be excited about this. But, he’s not! Instead Moses responds to God’s invitation by saying, “Lord, who am I? Who am I that I should confront Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel up out of Egypt?”
In other words, “Go to Egypt and lead the people out? Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me? I can’t do something like that! Send someone else!”
So, why does Moses feel this way? Why does Moses feel like he can’t do what God is calling him to do? Why does he feel inadequate? This morning I’d like to suggest some reasons Moses, and many of us, may feel inadequate when it comes to responding to God’s call to let God use our lives!
First, Moses may have felt inadequate because of his AGE.
As I mentioned earlier, Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in Egypt. Then, he spent the next 40 years of his life raising a family and herding sheep. This means that when God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses was 80 years old!
Maybe when Moses said, “Who am I that I should lead my people out of Egypt?” what he was really saying was, “God you can’t use me. I’m too old!” Have you ever felt like you were too old to be used by God? I never used to until a couple of years ago.
You see, I noticed a spot on my arm that looked a bit odd. So, I made an appointment with my dermatologist. When I went into her office she took one look at it and said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.”
I said, “What’s the good news?”
She said, “You don’t have skin cancer!”
“Great!” I said, “What’s the bad news?”
She smiled and said, “It’s an age spot!”
Then, there was the experience I had at the dentist this week. My dental hygienist, who’s very nice person, cleaned my teeth. When she was finished, I said, “How does everything look?”
“Well,” she said, “your teeth look great! But at you’re age it’s really all about the gums!”
Like it or not, I’m aging. I’m getting older! But, that doesn’t mean God can’t still me or you! You see sometimes you and I, like Moses, may think that our age makes us inadequate and unusable by God. But, this morning’s story reminds Moses, and us, that with God age is not an issue. We are never too old or too young to be used by God!
Second, Moses may have felt inadequate because of his PAST.
Do you remember why Moses was in the wilderness-tending sheep that day in the first place? It wasn’t because tending sheep for his father-in-law was his first career choice! Moses was in the wilderness because he had to flee Egypt. He had to flee Egypt because he’d killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. He was in the wilderness because he’d committed murder and had to flee before he was arrested and tried for what he had done!
You see, Moses had skeletons in his closet. He’d done some things he wasn’t proud of. He was a man who’d made some big mistakes along the way. He had a past. And so, when God said, “Moses I want to use you to free my people!” Moses felt inadequate and he said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of bondage!” In other words, “Lord, you can’t use me! I’ve done some bad things! I’ve got a past!”
Some of you may remember the name Chuck Colson. Way back in 1972 he was a high-powered attorney who worked for President Richard Nixon. During this period of his life he became involved in a number of illegal activities that ended in the Watergate Scandal. The scandal ended with President Nixon’s resignation and Colson being tried and sentenced to several years in federal prison.
Now, Chuck Colson could have let this mistake end his life, his ability to let God use him for good. He could have said, “God you can’t use me! I’m made some serious mistakes! I’ve got some tremendous skeletons in my closet! I’ve got a past!” But, he didn’t. Instead, he used his experience in prison to begin a ministry called “Prison Fellowship” – a ministry that for more than 40 years helped thousands of prisoners find healing, hope and new beginnings for their lives.
Here’s the point. The story of Moses, the story of Chuck Colson, reminds us that whoever we are, whatever we’ve done, even if we’ve made some big mistakes, done some things we are not proud of, things that make us feel inadequate–God can still use us. God wants to use us to change the world for love.
Third, Moses may have felt inadequate because he lacked EXPERIENCE.
Moses encounters God. God tells Moses that God wants to use him to lead God’s people out of Egypt to a new land. But Moses says, “Who am I that I should stand before Pharaoh, that I should lead your people out of Egypt?”
In other words, “I can’t do it, Lord! I can’t lead people!”
Why does Moses feel this way? Perhaps it was because over the last 40 years, Moses had never led anybody to do anything. In fact, the only thing Moses had led in the past 40 years was a herd of his father-in-law’s sheep. He didn’t have any experience.
When I was a teenager my church had a problem. We had several youth in our church, but we didn’t have a youth leader. There was nobody that felt like they could do the job. Then one day a man in our church named Bill came to our pastor and told him he thought God wanted him to give it a try. Now, Bill was a great guy, but our pastor had his reservations. Why? Bill was a little older. He’d never been married. He didn’t have children. And the last time he’d spent time with teenagers was, well, when he was one. To make a long story short our pastor decided to give Bill a chance with our youth.
And something amazing happened. Bill, who didn’t have the experience of working with youth, really connected with the youth. He became a trusted friend and mentor. He became one of the best youth leaders our church ever had. How do I know that? Bill shaped and molded my life in positive ways.
Listen, sometimes God calls us to use our lives to make a positive difference in the lives of others. But, we resist God’s call because we feel we don’t have the experience to be used by God. The good news the story of Moses and the story of Bill shares with us, however, is this – God often uses inexperienced people.
Finally, Moses may have felt inadequate because of his PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS.
We didn’t read that part of the story this morning, but one of the reasons Moses said he couldn’t help God was the fact that he was a stutterer. He had difficulty speaking to people, much less in front of people.
Many of you know that my wife teaches visually-impaired students for Guilford County Schools. One of her students is a young girl by the name of Ariana. Ariana is legally blind and faces many challenges in life. And yet, despite her physical limitations, Arianna allows God to use her in incredible ways. For you see, in addition to being a wonderful singer, Ariana is a gifted violinist and pianist! And she not only uses her gifts to play in the high school orchestra where she has made all county and all state. She uses her gift to lift the spirits of folks in retirement centers and nursing homes around the city each week!
Despite her physical limitations, God uses Ariana to bring light and love and liberation to people who desperately need it. I don’t know what kind of physical limitations you may have, but I do know this. They don’t make you inadequate. Whatever your limitations, God can still use you to change the world!
Listen, we live in a hurting world. There are people all around us who are suffering and oppressed. Like the children of Israel, they may be enslaved by racism or poverty. They may be enslaved by health issues, financial issues, relationship issues or some other issue. The good news, however is this: God has heard their cry. God wants to help them. And to do that, God is calling people like you and me to lead them out of their Egypt. And yet, when we hear God’s call we often feel inadequate. We say, “I can’t help, Lord. I’m too old or too young! I can’t help, God. I’ve made too many mistakes in my life! I can’t help God. I just don’t have the experience! I can’t help God. I have to many physical limitations.”
We say, “I can’t help, God, I’m inadequate!” And God hears our excuses.
But, do you know what God says when God hears them? God says to us, what God said to Moses, “Be at peace. For I will be with you! And when I am with you, you can do things you never dreamed you could do. For you see, I use all kinds of inadequate people. I used Abraham, who was old. I used Joseph, who was abused. I used Moses, who was a murderer. I used Elijah who was depressed.
I used Job, who went bankrupt. I used Rahab, who was a prostitute and the Samaritan woman, who was divorced. I used Jeremiah, who was young and Naomi, who was a widow. I used Martha, who was a worrier and Matthew, who worked for the Roman IRS. I even used Paul, who killed Christians. None of them were perfect. They were all inadequate in some way. But, I used them all!”
So, as God calls us to use our lives to change the world for love in some way, how will we respond? Will we say, “You can’t use me! I’m inadequate?”
Or, will we say, “Use me, Lord, in spite of the inadequacies I have?”
Let us pray!