God’s presence in our inadequacy

Farmville Enterprise October 31, 2018

In a Bible Study on God’s promise to be with us The Reverend Amy Poling Sutherlun highlights two passages of Scripture where different men felt inadequate for a job that God intended for them to do. In the first, Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. God said he had seen the misery of his people at the hands of the Egyptian slave drivers and came down to rescue them. “’So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’” (Exodus 3:10-12)

Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes, “Moses’ sense of his own inadequacy is not met with an assurance of his adequacy, but with an assertion of Yahweh as the God who will be present.”

In the second passage the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and told him God was with him and with the Israelites. Gideon asked if the Lord was with them why such bad things had happened. He thought they had been abandoned by God when they had been given over to the hands of the Midianites. “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you…’” (Judges 6:14-16a)

Both Moses and Judah wondered how God could use them since they perceived themselves as inadequate. At times we can relate to these questions about our own capabilities or lack thereof. Who am I that I should do big things for the Lord? How could I accomplish something great for God when I am so weak? The interesting thing in these passages is that God does not promise to make these men ultra-capable or to bestow on them amazing gifts of strength. Instead, God simply says that he will be with them. God’s presence is enough; it is more than enough.  In his parting words, Jesus said, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Sutherlun writes, “You may have heard it said, ‘God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called.’ There is merit to that reminder. However, the stories of Moses and Gideon further teach us that God accompanies the called, and that it is God’s presence in our weakness that equips us for our calling.”

 

 

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