Monday, June 2, 2014

Weekly Devotional: With God You Are Good Enough: Equipped for Success

When I was in school, I think the thing I hated most was showing up to class for a test or quiz when I knew all too well that I was NOT equipped to succeed. Whether it was a pop quiz and I knew I hadn’t paid attention in class or it was a test that I was completely unprepared for because I didn’t take the time I needed to study. Since I am the type of person that prides myself in being prepared and organized, I feel especially inadequate when I know that I am not prepped for success. Unfortunately, that feeling where your heart sinks and you just know that you aren’t going to do as well as you would like, is one that I have experienced on multiple occasions. Even worse are the times when you’ve studied for hours and you feel confident in your grasp of the information, but when you get the test back in has a huge F marked in red. It makes you wonder if you were actually as prepared as you thought, and whether you are smart, and ultimately good enough to succeed.

I’m sure that’s how Moses felt when God told him that he would be the one to lead his people out of Egypt—inadequate. He was the fallen “prince of Egypt” living out in the desert when God led him to a burning bush and told him, “Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10). Crazy right!!!!??? Moses protested FIVE TIMES (yes, I counted lol) and even asked God to send someone else before he begrudgingly agreed to return to Egypt. He was an outcast, accepted by neither the Egyptians nor Israelites. He didn’t feel like a leader. He didn’t feel smart, eloquent, powerful, persuasive or probably even “spiritual” enough. Although Moses didn’t know that he was or would become all of those things, God knew who he wanted to deliver the Israelites, and he knew that Moses was more than capable.

Despite the way things looked and the way Moses felt, God had already given him the tools to succeed. He gave him a mouth to talk, feet to walk, family to encourage him, a brother to help him during the journey, that useful staff of his that he parted the Red Sea with, and most importantly, a mind to call on God for help in his time of need! Although Moses ultimately did not enter the Promised Land, I’m sure we all know the story. He fulfilled the purpose for which he was chosen of God by leading his people out of a land of oppression, depression and false gods so that they could one day make it to a land flowing with milk and honey. Like you and me every day, he was confronted with a decision. He made a decision to do what God wanted him to do, and with God, he was good enough, he was well-equipped, he was strong and he was successful.

In many ways, like Moses Ruth also seems to have struggled with being good enough. God lead Ruth, and ultimately those around her, to success despite all evidence that the contrary would in fact come to pass. Ruth’s life seemed to be headed down a path of sorrow. Her husband (and his brother) had just died, and to make matters worse, her mother-in-law, Naomi, whom she had grown very close with, was urging her to move back in with her parents because Naomi planned to abandon her and move back to her own hometown. Naomi had heard that God  had blessed the people of the town with good crops. If I were Ruth I would’ve felt unequipped to succeed in life in general! I’m sure she didn’t plan on her husband dying or her mother-in-law wanting to move far, far away. At that point neither of her two options—to take the long journey to Bethlehem with Naomi or to move back home—seemed very promising.  Even so, Ruth decided that she would stay with Naomi.

I think most would agree that the logical thing for Ruth to do would have been to move back in with her own family and hope for a husband, especially in a time when women were seen as second class citizens and unable to handle their own affairs. Widows had especially low social status. That’s why it is so significant that she decided to follow Naomi, a decision that I believe was due to divine inspiration.

Although it never says in the Bible that Ruth heard the audible voice of God (as Moses did) when she was presumably at her lowest point, I think there is evidence that proves that God made her strong enough to sustain both her and Naomi while in Bethlehem. Ruth found the strength to obey Naomi, despite the fact that she didn’t understand. She had no knowledge of Naomi’s God or his power, yet she listened when Naomi told her what God was doing. And in a time when I’m sure she felt vulnerable (and let’s be honest, probably longed for a man) God strengthened her to resist the temptation to deceive Boaz into sleeping with her, and instead she followed Naomi’s direction to sleep at his feet. In the end, Ruth married Boaz honorably, and birthed Obed, a key ancestor of Jesus!

Both of these examples go to show that no matter how insignificant you may feel or how terrible your situation looks, God can always make something out of you if you listen to him. I’m sure that while Moses stood before that burning bush he never imagined that he would one day be read and talked about so frequently and with such high regard, or that he would become some great Biblical titan. And I doubt that Ruth, a Moabite who knew nothing of God, ever thought that she would birth an ancestor of Jesus—the Savior of humanity. Because God equipped her with a loving mother-in-law, smarts, and humility, she was able to overcome the shame of being a widow and lead a successful life. She was the first in her family to create a linage of believers in God.

Like Ruth, you may be the first family or group of friend to create a line of followers of Jesus. You never know who you might affect by just believing in God. Believing that because of him, you are good enough. Each of us has an opportunity and a duty to affect the lives of those around us. We have to come to the realization that if God asks us to something or leads us in a specific direction, it is because he believes that we can do it!

Nearly every day at work I feel overwhelmed. I feel drained by individuals that call my office seeking help, an outlet to vent their frustration with the state of our government, or just an ear to listen. But I have to keep reminding myself that God gave me this job. I didn’t obtain it of my own merit, because I didn’t have the best grades, the best resume, the most political connections, and I wasn’t the most outgoing, but God saw fit to place me at the job that I am in. So that must mean that I am strong enough to work events on nights and weekend even when I’m dead tired and to take the calls from people lambasting Congress and spewing racial epithets about President Obama. I have seen God strengthen me to help individuals with their problems even when I feel like I can’t help myself.

Despite our faults, sorrows, and various journeys, we are never too unworthy, too small or too unimportant to be used by God. Even if you aren’t aware of it yet, there are things that are in store for you that you cannot afford to squander. Just believe that God has already made a way for you to do his will. <3

“Now may the God of peace—
    who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
    and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
 may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,[e]
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)