Rev’d Jonathan Gale
Have you ever found yourself in a situation which you simply don’t have the ability to handle?
I can tell you quite a few times I’ve been at speed on a mountain bike and hit an unfamiliar downhill section that was simply above my level of ability. You can either try and ride it (which sometimes ends very badly) or you can do a controlled crash which always ends unpleasantly but at least you’re alive; and stationary.
Perhaps you’ve been given a new responsibility at work and no matter how much you try and convince people it’s beyond you, they ignore you. That once happened to me. I asked my boss three times to give the responsibility to someone else and he refused.
I was so stressed that I lost depth perception and would stumble over the slightest rise in the pavement as I was walking along. Thankfully God heard my prayers and someone was appointed to give me a hand, someone who had both the training and experience to do the job.
Joshua must have felt a bit like that when Moses handed the responsibility of Israel over to him.
Imagine you were taking over from this bloke who had been leading the people for 40 years: 10 Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11He was unequalled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
“Um, excuse me. Ahem! Excuse me! Ah … my name is Joshua, the son of Nun, and I’m taking over.”
Fortunately the Israelites didn’t give him a hard time. But he must have been nervous. It turns out he was up to the task but he would not have known it at the time.
But what he did know, and it makes all the difference, was that Moses had commissioned him.
Sometimes you come across a situation where you overestimate your ability (where you are distinctly not up to the task) and reality wallops you hard. That is normally when God has not commissioned you!
When I was about 6 yrs old in my first year of school I had a friend in the hostel with me. He was Swedish missionary’s son, and his name was Spiele Joelson. One day I came round the corner to discover him in tears. “Andre Harris punched me,” he wailed.
Well, my Dad had given me the advice that if anyone gave you trouble you simply punched him as hard as you could on the nose. I marched up to a group of boys and there was Andre in the middle saying, “Right. Who’s next?”
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. He was asking for it. I went straight at him and received a tremendous punch that just about knocked me off my feet.
How do you handle something like that? Well, little boys know about these things. I simply avoided looking for trouble with older boys after that.
The Pharisees did the same. When they tackled Jesus with what they thought was a trick question, he not only answered but bowled one right back at them that they couldn’t answer. St Matthew tells us No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
The thing is, if we were capable of handling everything God required of us, we’d not need to trust in God, would we?
Now I’ve entitled this sermon “Up to the Task?”
- The week before last, I suggested you ask God to give you something to say or do that would stretch your faith.
- Last week I suggested you find one stranger and speak to them. I said learn to listen. Ask them questions about themselves. Just get them talking and listen.
This all takes faith. It requires us to trust God.
- This week, I’d like us all to find a stranger, to listen to them and to take the opportunity to ask them just one thing, “Have you ever considered the fact that God loves you?” It might be a kind of add-on at the end of the conversation; it might just find itself fitting comfortably into the middle of the conversation. Either way you simply ask, “Have you ever considered the fact that God loves you?”
Take that step of faith. It’s then you’ll find your confidence soar and your joy increase.
Moses commissioned Joshua and it was okay.
Jesus has commissioned us. It’s sure to be okay. Only we have to do it.
Developing the courage to speak up is the only thing that will save the church. It’s something we all are commissioned by Jesus to do. Pray, pray, pray and when you see the opportunity, ask someone, “Have you ever considered the fact that God loves you?”
As the Nike ad says, “Just do it!”
God loves you!
Readings for today:
Matthew 22: 34 – 46
1 Thessalonians 2: 1 – 8
Deuteronomy 34: 1 – 12