As I was reading my Bible the other day, I found myself in Exodus chapter 3—right when Moses was about to come face to face with a bush that was on fire, but was not being consumed. He didn’t know what to do with that, he didn’t have a context to put that one in. This was new territory for the original man “formerly known as prince.” I’m sure he was overwhelmed with questions about what he was seeing and what he was about to hear—from the bush!
Have you ever been in a situation that is new ground for you? I know I have. Many times when I face situations that are brand new, I tend to find myself doing exactly what Moses did when the bush spoke to him and gave him his marching orders.
Now we know that it was the voice of God that spoke to him and not tree beard’s cousin in a lost Lord of the Rings episode. It was God’s presence visibly and audibly presenting Himself to His servant, with specific orders for the next steps of His plan. Moses replied with the “E” word—EXCUSES.
I shouldn’t be too tough on Moses. I mean, after all, he was experiencing something no one had ever seen before. I wonder if I would have even ventured in for a closer look, or grabbed the sheep I was watching and hightailed it out of there. At least he was curious to find out more.
It’s interesting when the voice speaks to him that his response is to make excuses like “Who am I?” and “Okay, suppose I do go, uh, who should I say sent me?” Valid questions, I guess considering the situation where he currently found himself.
As best as I can tell, he had at least three things that I’m sure he is concerned about that probably caused him to make excuses.
First of all, he’s a fugitive who is wanted by the very people he is being asked to petition on behalf of God’s people.
Second, he used to be a very wealthy, very powerful prince, with tons of career upside, and now he finds himself in a dead end job taking care of sheep in a desert!
Third, he’s working for and living with his in-laws!
I’m not making excuses for Moses, but I can surmise that he is probably wondering where his life is going, and all of a sudden he is faced with an “out of the box” situation that throws him for a loop. Ever been there? I can kind of understand where Moses is coming from.
I actually started categorizing excuses several years ago. I basically came up with three categories of excuses that I mentally file when I make them or hear them from others.
Let me explain. The first category is called “Cool Excuses.” These are excuses that have a good story attached to them, a story that makes one pause and say, “You know, that was a cool reason to make that excuse.”
For example, several years ago at our weekly skater event called Hang Time, one of the skaters showed up with a full cast and sling on his arm. I asked him what had happened, and he said “Dude, I nailed this half pipe at a park in the Bronx last weekend. I overshot the landing and came down right across the trucks on my board and smash, broke my arm!”
Not only was he at Hang Time (I would’ve been at home laying on my couch making my family wait on me hand and foot), but he took his helmet in his good arm, placed it on his head, somehow managed to snap the chin strap, and rode out into the skate park to go back at it! Cool excuse!
Speaking of lounging on the couch, the second category I’ve come up with is called “Lame Excuses.” These are excuses that have a terribly lame story attached to them. For instance, my junior year in high school, I was extremely ill on a particular day. I convinced my mom to let me stay home and rest. She finally agreed, and after she left for work, I took up my favorite spot on the couch, and snuggled my bowl of Cheerios in the convenient little hole I had in my skinny little chest and settled in to watch reruns of Scooby-Doo and Shaggy.
As would usually happen when I was sick, I fell asleep rather quickly and spilled Cheerios all over the place—before the Mystery Machine even revved up its engines, and before Scooby even begged for a Scooby snack. Then all of a sudden, I was awakened by a shriek—Scrappy made a special appearance in this episode—and I got up too quickly from my Cheerio-induced state. I blacked out for a second and hyper-extended my knee! I was in excruciating pain.
I went to the doctor. He put an ace bandage on it and gave me some crutches. Everything was good until the next day at school. I was posed with questions like, “What did you do to your knee? Football injury? Basketball injury? Baseball injury?” I wish any and all of those would have fit my situation, but alas all I had was my “Scooby-Doo and Cheerios” Lame Excuse!
The third category of excuses is one I came up with a few years ago when I heard the most bizarre story for being late to our worship team practice. It was so unusual that I decided to name the category “Bizarre Excuses,” and make this example the charter member of the group.
One of our guitar players was late, and as he came in I noticed that he had a broken nose and two black eyes. Of course my first question was “Why are you late?” and then “What happened?”
He had been playing at a gig the previous night, and during the set the bass player was really getting into it, flailing his bass around and up and down and all over. On one of his riffs, he threw his bass back hard and to the right, in just the perfect location to catch his tuning forks on the nose of my guitar player.
Yes, you heard me right, his nose got caught in the tuning forks of this rocking bass player, and for the next 30 seconds or so he went for a ride much like I would envision a cowboy on a bucking bronco. Needless to say his nose was broken, his eyes were black, and he was late for practice carrying an incredibly BIZARRE EXCUSE.
Now, back to Moses. Here he is, face to face with the Creator of all things, who knows his past wrongs, his present situation, and his future successes. And when given a clear directive from the voice of God Himself, he makes excuses.
What’s so amazing about God though is that He stays with Moses. He doesn’t blow him away or anything. He clearly reminds him who He is and what He wants for him to do. I love that about God!
In my years of youth ministry, I’ve seen and heard hundreds and hundreds of excuses—and I’ve personally made even more than that. I’m good at excuses, and if you’re honest with yourself so are you. But the reality is that when God is powering our lives, we have no excuse.
I’m sure He doesn’t have a category list like I do. With Him, every excuse we make in response to His leading and guiding in our lives is weak at best.
He is I AM. He knows me, loves me, created me, gifted me, empowers me, and will never leave me. I am without excuse when it comes to responding to His power and plan in my life!