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We All Make Excuses (This Means You)

7/17/2002 - 12:00 AM PST

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WE ALL MAKE EXCUSES -- BY PATRICK MADRID

IT'S A FACT. The single biggest impediment to sharing the Faith is the excuse we conjure up at the moment to avoid doing it. Let's say a situation arises where you can open your mouth and talk about Christ and the Catholic Church, but instead, the flashing red "excuse meter" goes off in the back of your mind. A bumbling string of reasons why you can't say or do anything floods out. Sound familiar? It's happened to me many times.

For a great example of some world-class excuse making and backpedaling, think of Moses. You recall the situation. Moses was the son of Hebrew slaves in Egypt, providentially adopted by Pharaoh's daughter. But he'd killed an Egyptian taskmaster for beating an Israelite slave. So Moses had fled Egypt to avoid punishment (see Exodus 2:1-22).

The fugitive found safety and comfort in the land of Midian. There, he climbed to the summit of Mount Horeb to meet God, who appeared to him in the form of a burning bush. Little did Moses know that God would ask him to have faith and jump off one really humongous high-dive: When the Lord saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses! And he said, "Here am I." Then He said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . . . And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt" (Ex 3:4-10).

The Bible gives us the whole series of excuses Moses threw out as he did his best to wiggle out of God's call. Let's look at each of these in turn and see how they apply to you and me.

Excuse One: "Who am I that I should [be the one to] go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Ex 3:11 NAB). Translation: "What? Lord, you've gotta be kidding! I just left that place, and none too soon. They want to kill me over there. There are better, more qualified people than me you could send. You've got the wrong guy." God overcame this excuse by telling Moses simply, "I will be with you" (v. 12). How often we forget that part of the process when we worry about stepping out in faith to talk to others about Christ. We're worried we'll get clobbered in the discussion and humiliated in the process. We forget that what God said to Moses is exactly what He says to us: "Don't worry. I'll be with you." Excuse Two: "When I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?" (v. 13 NAB).

Translation: "What authority do I have to go do this? I'm just a common guy. Besides, they'll ask me to prove that You sent me. I don't have any answers for that."

Obviously, since his first excuse didn't work with God, Moses was looking for another way out. By saying he didn't know God's name, he was implying that he was under-qualified for the job because he didn't have a longstanding relationship with Him. How could God select a man who had so recently met Him for the first time?

We may fall back on this excuse when we're faced with the opportunity to talk about the Faith with someone who knows us well. We worry that the person will say, "Who are you to tell me about all this? You 'got religion,' and all of a sudden you think you're qualified to tell me about God? Get real." 1 Sometimes friends and family do say that to us, but it's still not sufficient reason to shrink from telling the truth. Notice God's response to this excuse: "This is what you shall tell the Israelites: 'I AM sent me to you . . . The Lord, the God of your fathers . . . has sent me to you'" (vv. 14-15 NAB).

That response from God is a cue for how to handle resistance from those close to us. In the case of a lapsed Christian, remind that person that you're not coming to him with a new message. You're reminding him of something he already was taught from his youth, something he knows, deep down in his heart, to be true.

Especially in the case of Catholics or other Christians who have drifted away from God through a divorce and invalid remarriage, through an abortion not repented of, through some other sinful choice, or simply through apathy, you can remind them of ...

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