Divine empowerment is for the moment in which it is needed, not something God hands out in advance. His command is to ‘go’ and then He releases what we need.
Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:12)
Poor old Moses must have felt that he’d been thrust from the frying pan into the fire. He was, after all, technically a ‘wanted man’ having killed the overseer and had fled from Egypt into the wilderness. Yet God was commanding him to go back and confront the one man he should avoid at all costs. That’s rather like stepping willingly into the flames that were sure to consume him. It’s a feeling every believer confronts when given a God-sized assignment.
Weakness is a prerequisite for divine empowerment.
This great man – mentioned over and over with reverence in the Bible – was touchingly human. Aside from his rather humbling occupation herding goats in the middle of nowhere, and the very real danger of being put to death for his previous crime, he’s quick with other excuses. While we don’t necessarily have a speech impediment, many believers are just as quick to point out their inability to speak with power or eloquence. We’re ‘not made that way.’ It’s ‘not my gift.’ ‘I lack the confidence/experience.’ All of these may well be true, but they exclude the fundamental principle of divine empowerment.
Our weaknesses are not obstacles to God’s purposes. In fact, they may well be the foundation for their success. While the world may regard this as foolishness, God makes it very clear in the Bible that His power is most manifest in the greatest weakness. Gideon and David are perfect examples. The weaker we are – and the more honest we are about our shortcomings – the more space we allow for God to move. A good explanation of divine empowerment would be ‘spiritual osmosis.’ God’s power moves to fill the space left by our weakness.
Our need for divine empowerment may well be the reason we are chosen.
It took a long time for Moses to ‘grow into’ the person God needed him to be. He had to lose the arrogance and self-confidence that came from a privileged position in Pharaoh’s household. He had to go on the run, terrified for his life, and leave everything behind. Finally, he had to endure long, lonely hours tending goats in the wilderness. Anyone who knows goats will concede that this isn’t exactly the height of fun – and it’s pretty smelly, too. The implication is clear. Moses had to be brought to a place of absolute weakness before he could receive divine empowerment and be used by God.
Logic and reason seems to insist that God would look for the most confident, eloquent, experienced, and bold for His work. Instead, He chooses a murderer and a man stripped of all human ability, and with a speech impediment, to confront one of the greatest world leaders of his time. Why? Because it had taken a lifetime to bring Moses to the place of total weakness and absolute reliance on God. When we are nothing, God becomes everything. When we honestly acknowledge we don’t have what it takes, we’re ready for divine empowerment.
Human frailty, God’s glory, and divine empowerment
On a purely practical level, weakness is a necessity because if we’re confident in our abilities, we’re going to rely on ourselves and our own abilities. The minute we don’t need God’s divine empowerment, we exclude Him from the equation. We expect Him to sit around on the sidelines and pat us on the head when we get it right. The problem with this is that we don’t have what it takes. We don’t know the full extent of God’s plans and purposes, we don’t know what is needed to accomplish them, and we don’t know the how and when of it all. In our ignorance, we step into presumption and either mess up or get in His way.
We’re also essentially proud by nature. We enjoy success and achievement, and we especially enjoy knowing that ‘we did it.’ This need for recognition is wired into us from birth. Pride is essentially stealing God’s glory for ourselves. The Bible tells us that He won’t share His glory, let alone allow us to hijack it. Absolute weakness before God and total reliance on His divine empowerment is the only way to avoid the trap of pride. It’s the only way that God receives all the glory He deserves.
The need for divine empowerment is not an excuse to disobey.
Like Moses, we can come up with any number of excuses not to be obedient. All of these are empty and futile – the protestations of pride, really, because it’s all about us. God listens to everything Moses says, but His response is simple: Go. We can almost hear the ‘and your point is?’ in that little word. There’s really no way to misunderstand this. Go means go. It means start moving, start speaking, start doing. Never mind that we have misgivings, fears, or inadequacies. God knows that. If we respond by stepping out in faith, He will respond by releasing divine empowerment.
A lot of our excuses seem very valid. We don’t know the Bible well enough is one often used. The reality is that divine empowerment uses the little we have. It takes a mustard seed and transforms it into a huge tree. The sad reality is that we want to hang around until we’re equipped – which simply delays our going indefinitely because we’ll never be fully equipped. Divine empowerment is released at the moment we need it, not in advance so we can have it packed and ready when we set out. God says to go. Delaying it is simply disobedience.
The perfect provision of divine empowerment.
But God knew that Moses – like us – needed encouragement, and so He provided a promise – one which was entirely dependent on the word ‘go.’ The promise was essentially divine empowerment in those areas where he had a lack. What God was saying was ‘you go, then I will provide everything you need.’ God still operates on this principle today. He doesn’t change, and His promises are eternal. Our task is simply to go – to take a step in faith. Everything else is up to God, but we can be absolutely sure that His divine empowerment will be gloriously, abundantly sufficient for every minute of the journey.
Forgive us, Lord, where we have delayed or made excuses, focusing on ourselves and our own frailties rather than on Your power and purpose. Grant us the faith to step out in obedience, knowing our weakness and frailty but secure in the assurance that Your divine empowerment is already in place.