Bigger Than You by Kim Reisman
“The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.” Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.” (Exodus 3:9-12, The Message)
Each of us has a life picture – a picture of the way our life is or might become. These pictures are usually grounded on what we believe we can accomplish with our own strength and resources. Our Scripture passage for this month shows us how limited that kind of understanding can be. Moses had a life picture, but it didn’t involve leading God’s efforts to liberate Israel from slavery – “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh?” (Exodus 3:11, NLT)
As Christians we serve a mighty God, creator of the universe, a God who is bigger than we can possibly imagine. It is that mighty God who has created our divine destiny, a destiny that is also bigger than we can imagine. Where our life pictures are rooted in common sense, the mighty God we serve has created a purpose for our lives that almost always defies common sense.
Do you remember the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus who died before Jesus got there? When Jesus arrived, he told the people to open the tomb; but Lazarus’s sister, Martha, who like us, was limited by common sense says, “Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for four days.” (John 11:39, NLT) Common sense holds us back from moving beyond our own life picture, toward the picture that God has for our future. Martha couldn’t move beyond her common sense, which told her what a four-day old dead body would be like. Jesus had to remind her of God’s picture. “Didn’t I tell you that you will see God’s glory if you believe?” he asked her. (verse 40)
The common sense that informs our life picture tells us, “I’m too old,” “I don’t have a degree,” “It doesn’t make sense.” But our created purpose does not stem from what we can imagine about ourselves. It stems from what God imagines about us – and that is always bigger, always better.
As Moses continues to argue with God about sending him on this mission, he protests, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now…I’m clumsy with words.” (Exodus 4:10, NLT) We tend to echo that when we finally catch a glimpse of God’s purpose for our lives, “God, I could never do that; I’m not bright enough…I’ve been divorced…I’m in recovery.” But again, God’s response makes it clear that our picture is just too small, too limited. It shows us that God not only will be with us as we pursue our future, God will provide us with exactly what we need, when we need it.
“Who makes mouths?” the Lord asked him. “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12, NLT)
God, the creator of our future, provides us with the tools we need to understand that future – not only in furnishing us with gifts and talents but in giving us ordinary tools in our everyday life experience, tools we may not recognize as significant. When Moses encountered the burning bush, he was carrying a shepherd’s staff, an ordinary stick that shepherds use every day. God told Moses to throw it to the ground; and when he did, God turned it into a snake. That ordinary staff became the source of extraordinary signs and wonders when Moses finally confronted Pharaoh.
We move from our limited life picture toward God’s created purpose when we recognize that God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. Throughout my life I’ve had and continue to have many unchurched friends. I don’t believe that’s an accident. My passion in ministry is to empower leaders to reach out to unchurched folks, to help leaders make the journey of faith a relevant and meaningful experience for those who are taking their first steps on that journey. That’s how God works. God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. Years ago, Mike Slaughter used an equation to illustrate this truth: Our ordinary experience and passion, plus God’s presence, equals a mighty work.
God’s purpose for our lives is always bigger and better than we can imagine when we limit ourselves to common sense, when we remain bound by the seeming ordinariness of our experience. Yet, God uses that ordinariness for his purposes when we open ourselves to God’s picture for our lives, reminding ourselves that it’s not how we imagine ourselves that is so crucial to grasping our future; it’s how God imagines us that counts.
As you pray and fast this month, take some time for reflection. First, reflect on your life experience – the ordinary elements of your current daily activities as well as your past. Make a list of these as they come to your mind. Then reflect on your passions. What is it about life that excites you or energizes you? Make a list of these passions as well. Examine your two lists. How might God use those ordinary experiences and passions?
I pray that your reflection will enable you to you make strong connections between your faith and your daily life. And that you will realize that God is able to take your experiences and passions and shape them into a mighty work.