About a month ago, my pastor suggested something whose time has come! He suggested that we go home, find a box, write out all our excuses on individual pieces of paper, crumple them up, throw them in the box and close the lid on them. It was something I needed to hear. I am ashamed to admit that I have more excuses today than I had six years ago. I have the same excuses I had six years ago plus a whole pile of new ones. I don’t want to have excuses. I want to have a heart that always says “Yes, Lord.”
I like to think that I have that heart…but the problem is that I have this stack of excuses that even keeps me from hearing God give me new assignments. When the excuses short-circuit hearing God’s voice, I am deceived into believing that I have the “yes, Lord” heart. If I received a clear word from the Lord with a new assignment, I’m pretty sure I’d say “yes, Lord.” I just can’t receive the clear word because every time God tries to speak to me, I short-circuit the connection with an excuse.
I am reminded of this parable told by Jesus:
15When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
21“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
23“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'”
I don’t want to take the passage out of context – it is intended to challenge the Jews who believed they would be partaking of the great feast in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was speaking to people who in most cases had not accepted Him as the Messiah. We are not in the same situation as the Jews of Jesus’ time. But there are some principles we can draw out of the parable.
Each person had an excuse. Each person missed what God had for them because they chose to do things that could have been done by someone else. One commentator shot down all three arguments:
- “I must go see the field” – if he had just purchased the field, he had likely just seen it;
- “I must try out my new oxen” – if he had the money to buy five oxen, he surely had people working for him who could try them out;
- “I just got married” – according to Jewish law, that was a valid excuse not to go to war for a year, but it wasn’t a valid excuse for missing a great banquet, especially one that they had already committed to attend.
These men chose to attend to matters of livelihood, commerce and family rather than the banquet. According to one commentary, they would have RSVP’d – promised to attend – but instead of keeping their promises, they made excuses.
Having said “Yes” to Christ as not only my Savior but also my Lord, I have put in my RSVP to accept any invitation He extends to me. Yet I suspect there are times when He begins to extend an invitation and I preempt Him by saying “but…..” or “I can’t because…” or “I could if…” or even “when….then I’ll…”
Please don’t get me wrong. There are times when people will ask us to do something and our priority (or more accurately, God’s priority for us at that moment) is to take care of business or commerce or family. But I suspect that there are many more times when God asks me to do something and I short-circuit His request with one of the many excuses I seem to carry around “for such a time as this.”
Lord, make my “for such a time as this” opportunities be ones in which I choose to serve You, not convenient times to pull one of my old excuses out of my back pocket. Better yet, Lord, help me to pull those excuses out one by one, look at them, then crumble and lay them at the foot of Your cross. No more excuses, Lord!
Are you like me? Do you have too many excuses in your hip pocket? Do you suspect that your excuses are keeping you from even hearing the opportunities God might have for you? Do you suspect you’re missing opportunities to say “Yes” to God and serve Him with all your heart? If so, I pray that you will join me in my prayer I prayed above. And I pray that you will join me in the effort of identifying your excuses and bringing them before God one by one. I suspect one of two things will happen with each excuse: Either God will shatter the excuse with His wisdom – you will see the utter irrelevance of the excuse – or He will enable you to make your excuse a sacrificial offering to Him – that you will lay that excuse upon His altar and say “no more Lord. With Your help, I will not use this excuse to keep me from following Your will.”
I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Add a comment below or e-mail me at sandy@ApprehendingGrace.com.