Identify!

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There are times when we don’t quite believe who God says we are. But that never changes who we are or the plans He has for us.

There are even times when we put a lot of energy into making excuses and explaining to God why we aren’t who He says we are. But that doesn’t change anything either.

Case in point: Exodus chapter 3.

A man named Moses finds himself in a conversation with God, who informs him that he, Moses, will be the one to go bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He is going to be the voice that frees six hundred thousand men and their families from slavery.

Moses’ response?

  • “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…” (3:11)
  • “[But] If I come to the people of Israel …and they ask me ‘who sent you?’ what do I say then?” (3: 13, paraphrased)
  • “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice…” (4:1)
  • “I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (4:10)
  • “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (4:13)

With each comment, God continues to explain how He has chosen Moses, how He will influence the Israelites to listen to Moses, how He will enable Moses to handle whatever is ahead, how He will display His power through Moses, how He defines who Moses is and He has decided Moses is the man for the job.

But Moses responds with more excuses. Moses simply refused to buy it. He was sure he was a nobody, and that the best place for him was right where he was, in obscurity taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.

So finally, in 4:14-16 God essentially says “Fine. Your brother Aaron will go with you and he’ll do the talking. Does that make you happy?” (My personal interpretation, of course…I’m pretty sure none of that was in the original Hebrew text.)

But here’s the rub  – pay close attention now – because if you read through the next 9 chapters of Exodus, in all the interactions that took place with Pharaoh, not once do you read “And Aaron said unto Pharaoh…

The only place we see Aaron taking the lead is when they first talk to the Israelites (4:30). From there on out, Moses is the point man.

To me, this is significant, because it is one of the starkest examples in scripture of what Bob Perdue and others refer to as the concept of the true self.  It says “You are who God says you are, not necessarily who you think you are.”

As much as we try to hedge and detour and deflect and make excuses, God knows who we really are. He knows because He defines who we really are.

Our maneuvering, our excuses, our doubts, what we think we’re capable of or not capable of – none of that trumps what God planned from the beginning of time.

Our mistakes, our past, our faults or failures – none of that disqualifies us from what God planned from the beginning of time.

The Creator of the universe, designated you for a purpose and then designed you to meet that purpose.

Trust Him, you’ll find that the person he designed you to be is exactly what brings deep fulfillment, more so than your highest personal aspirations. (I’m pretty sure that in the end Moses knew that what he accomplished was a whole lot more fulfilling than another 40 years of tending sheep).

So stop making excuses and believe who God says you are.

He knows what He’s talking about.

 

The Perils of Time Travel

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Who doesn’t have some point in the past they wish to go back to?

To make a different decision, right some wrong, take a different path, avoid a situation where you were hurt, or avoid hurting someone else. The reasons to want to change the event can seem as numerous as the moments that have passed since the event took place.

We all have at least one moment in time like that.  I personally have a whole laundry list.

But God, in His divine wisdom, doesn’t allow us to have do-overs, or even a momentary time-jump to make minor adjustments.

Why?

Here are my thoughts:

He knows that we are likely to just screw up all over again.  Maybe when we got there we would decide that we didn’t want to change things after all. Or we might get caught up in the moment and make the same choice – or a worse one.

How many times have we said “I’ll never do that again” and then when the opportunity came to “do that” we fell right into it? What makes us think that “I wouldn’t do that again” would hold up if we went back in time?

Yes, you can say you’ve seen years of consequences. You’d know better than to make the same mistake again. But often when we make a repeat mistake in real time, we’ve seen the consequences it brought last time we did it. Yet in the moment we think that doing it again will yield a different result…or, we just don’t think, period.

Real-time repeat-mistake-maker, meet time-traveling repeat-mistake-maker.

I am convinced that even with perfect knowledge – knowing what we know today while being in the moment yesterday – we would still be vulnerable to making the same mistakes.

He knows we would try to fix it in our way. We are human, with human reasoning, and human emotions.  How do we know that the way we would change that one moment would make everything better?  Even assuming we can know for sure the exact moment to change to make things different (a big assumption), how do we know that righting one wrong wouldn’t lead to wronging three rights in the process?

Or how do we know that instead of doing the right thing, we wouldn’t just do the wrong thing differently to try to avoid the aftereffects? In our humanness, we are just as likely to try to do the wrong thing again, but in such a way so as to outmaneuver the consequences. Which, of course, would just lead to different consequences.

—–

None of this is profound, is it? We’ve seen enough sci-fi movies to know that when you time travel, you don’t interfere with history. Yet we still would like to try. We think, “Oh no, it would be different if *I* could go back in time. I’d be able to make all the right changes and the result would be a much better life for all.”  Guess what – you wouldn’t, and it wouldn’t.

So where does that leave us? I’m out of time and space (no pun intended) to go any further right now. So I’ll leave that for next time. Until then, leave some comments with your own thoughts below.

Building On Top of the Rubble

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I want to know a song can rise,
From the ashes of a broken life,
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn.
                                      — Worn, Tenth Avenue North

God is not only a master builder, but also a master re-builder.

When our own poor choices and bad judgments cause what He has built to crumble, and our lives and testimonies become a big pile of ashes, He is not finished with us.

He begins to rebuild. And He always builds on top of the rubble. He doesn’t move on to another building site and leave us to lie in pieces. He builds on the site of the disaster and makes us bigger and better and stronger and more mature than we ever were before.

Two years ago, when my own poor choices and bad judgments caught up with me, causing the loss of friends, loss of respect even with those who remained at my side, and the severance of family relationships that were so very dear to me, I first heard the song Worn by Tenth Avenue North. The entire chorus goes like this:

“Let me see redemption win,
Let me know the struggle ends,
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn,
I want to know a song can rise,
From the ashes of a broken life,
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn.”

I can remember hearing those lyrics and lifting them up as my own plea with every ounce of my being – pleading desperately with God that the words could be true.

Today, two years later, I hear those words and I smile, because that prayer has become a praise. Because now I know that redemption does win, that struggles do end, that frail and torn hearts can be mended. I know that songs do rise from the ashes and dead things are reborn.

None of these realities are perfect or complete. There are still relationships that haven’t recovered, and maybe never will. There is still hurt in the lives of loved ones caused by the choices I made. There are still moments of regret and guilt and shame over my bad decisions. And there are still weaknesses and the realization that old struggles can come back – this life is lived on a battlefield.

But God never promised to rebuild us perfectly in this life. There are still traces of the rubble around the construction site. And there is always a new phase of the building project on the horizon. That’s called growth, or in Christian parlance, sanctification. It is a process, not an artifact.

Maybe the place where you are now is in the midst of the rubble, with dust flying and brick and mortar crushing down and the occasional spark bursting from a severed power line. If that’s the case, take heart, trust Him, and just press through today. He’s not done with you yet.

No matter what you did, or what was done to you, He will rebuild, and you will rise again.