Even in settings that are not so unique and out of the norm, even in the everyday stuff of life, I can feel inadequate to carry out what I’m supposed to do, to be a good friend, to do my job with excellence, to care for my family, to serve others, all while living as a reflection of Jesus.
The place I struggle with feeling inadequate the most is this right here. Writing and sharing and teaching from God’s Word. Even while writing this post right now, little whispers of doubt niggle in my mind. There are so many others who are more qualified to write the words and teach God’s Word.
And I wonder, Who am I to write these words and share God’s Word? How can I really make a difference and help others with all my deficiencies and inadequacies?
Can you relate to these feelings?
Maybe you feel inadequate where you’re at right now, in your various relationships and roles and responsibilities. Maybe you feel your abilities and personality fall short for where God has you and what He’s calling you to do.
And you’re wondering, Who am I to speak, lead, teach, raise, give, love, help, create, write, start, make? How can I without messing up and failing and letting others, letting God, down?
In Exodus 3 and 4, we read of someone else who felt inadequate and unqualified and not good enough to do what God was calling him to do. He wondered Who am I? and was very good at pointing out his inabilities and inadequacies.
This man was Moses. His parents were slaves in Egypt when Moses was born. Moses was also born with a death sentence. The Pharaoh of Egypt wanted all Hebrew baby boys killed lest the Israelites grow numerous enough to overthrow their oppressors. In an attempt to keep him alive, Moses’ mother placed him in a basket at the mercy of the Nile, which brought him to none other than Pharaoh’s daughter. In compassion, she took Moses as her own and raised him as a prince of Egypt.
After killing a slave driver, Moses flees Egypt to once again avoid death, and goes to Midian, where he marries, has a family, and works as a shepherd.
After forty years of life in Midian, one day while tending sheep, he comes upon a bush that is on fire, but is not burning up. From the blazing bush, God speaks to Moses. As Moses stands on holy ground, God calls him to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt.
“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7-8, 10
Upon hearing this call, Moses responds by asking, Who am I? And through this conversation with God, he continues to point out his inadequacies.
He says, “Who am I to lead? What authority do I have with the Israelites? What if they don’t believe me? I’m not good at speaking.” And finally, in doubt and fear and filled with his inadequacies, he just asks God to send someone else.
The human response to this would be to point out how strengths, talents, and experiences make Moses’ great for the job. How his being a Hebrew brought up in the ways of the Egyptians makes him the perfect man to go before Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites. How his being a shepherd for forty years has developed in him care and leadership skills. How he has a sense of justice and courage in his heart.
That’s certainly the type of response I would like to hear when faced with my inadequacies.
But God’s response was different. When Moses presented his inadequacies, God declared His ability. God said, “I AM.” Wrapped up in that Name is all the power and might and sovereignty and sufficiency and ability of the One True God.
God said, “I AM, and I am going to be with you, and I am going to perform signs and wonders through you, and I am going to make the Egyptians favorably inclined toward you, and I am going to help you speak, and I am going to deliver My people from slavery and bring them to the Promised Land.”
Here’s the thing: we are inadequate. At times, our abilities do fall short. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We were created to need God. We were created to display and declare His power and His glory and His ability. We were created to experience His love and grace and strength in our weak and broken places, and to share them with others.
But we can’t do that if we’re relying on our own adequacy. We can’t lean on God’s wisdom if we’re leaning on our own understanding. We can’t experience the sufficiency of God’s grace and power if we’re trying to stand in our own strength.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us God “is able to immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” This is a wonderful, hope-filled promise. And the verse goes on to say, “according to His power that is at work within us.” (emphasis mine)
Yes, God gives us each gifts and talents, and He calls us to use them. Yes, God gives us dreams and passions, and He calls us to pursue them. Yes, God prepares us through different experiences and circumstances to do what He calls us to do.
But there will always be the choice to either only go as far as we feel our own abilities can carry us, or to continue to step out in faith, trusting God’s ability to not only carry us, but to work unimaginable wonders in us and through us. God wants His power to work in both the abilities He has given us and in our inadequacies, to accomplish immeasurably more than our own abilities ever could.
Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing, but in Jesus, we can do all things. Apart from Jesus, we will drown in our inadequacies, but in Jesus, we are adequate and able to do all He calls us to do.
So when the whispers of doubt niggle in your mind, when your inadequacies have you asking, Who am I? remember that God is I AM. He is with you when you feel like you’re in over your head, His grace is sufficient for you to walk in obedience, His power is made perfect in weakness, and with Him, nothing is impossible.