Hope When You Feel Incapable

“I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” – Exodus 33:22 NIV

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

So you’ve started something big.


Whether it’s marriage, parenting, ministry, or a job, you’ve taken on the next level of big.


Full of passion and purpose, you started out strong – maybe achieving more than you thought possible, but now you’re seriously doubting your abilities and wondering if you’re the wrong person for the job after all.


Sound familiar?


You’re not alone.


Moses met God at a burning bush and received his great commission to lead God’s people out of slavery. It took a little convincing, but Moses became the Lord’s instrument, and led the Hebrew nation out of Egypt in a rather magnificent way.


I can picture Moses standing on the far shore of the Red Sea as the divided waters rushed together again thinking, I was made to do this!


Was it last week, last month, or maybe last year when you thought the same thing?


I. was. made. to. do. this!


But as we say in our house, “happy feeling gone” as purpose falters and struggles begin, and you feel oh so incapable.


What went wrong?


The plan was simple. Go from here – a dry place with chains, to there – a fertile place of promise and possibility.


You understood it would take hard work, but it’s more than you bargained for, and you and the people you’ve invested your heart and soul in have become sort of, well…stiff-necked.


And now God doesn’t seem available.


You’ve sensed his absence from your prayers, and wonder if he thinks you’re just as incapable as you feel.


I can assure you it has more to do with compassion than neglect.


“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:3)


Thank God for divine self-control, but how can you carry on without his presence leading you?


“I know you by name.”


God knows each one he calls, and if you have felt His grace and motivation to do His work, you’ve found favor in Him. As Matthew Henry once said:


“God’s good work in us is the surest discovery of his good-will towards us.”


Moses urged God to stay with him.


“How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16)


And that’s our fear too isn’t it? To be indistinguishable from everyone else on earth.


But what if you were indistinguishable AND without God?


Would you give up the mission, and not move one step forward until God blessed you with His presence?


Could you be bold enough to ask?


Moses was, and we can too.


“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)


When we understand the value of His presence, we’re in a better place to receive it.


When we stand in the wilderness and know we are lost without our great Guiding Light, the power of prayer can urge us to ask, knock, and seek, and when he has already done much, he will do more.


“I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17)


Show Me More


Moses had the distinct pleasure of speaking with God “as one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:11) and when we are in the grip of His presence, we should contend to keep ourselves there as well.


“Now show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)


Did you just wince? Do you think Moses crossed the line?


We shouldn’t, for we do the same thing when we ask God to show us a sign, or speak to us.


And he treats us just as gently as he treated Moses.


It’s a God Thing


“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.” (Exodus 33:21)


Did you catch it? I love how rocks are a God thing! He doesn’t say go stand in a puddle or in a corner, but go stand on a rock. Why?


Because your faith and desire to be in His presence warrants a rock. It doesn’t deserve sand, or even water, but a rock solid foundation.


“When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” (Exodus 33:22)


As we pray and move closer to God, we will experience His grace and goodness “pass by” the work we do, but we cannot experience this visually.


For our walk is by faith, not by sight.


So God, in His continued graciousness, put us in the protection of a “rock” and covers our eyes so we may not be consumed, but rather encouraged and strengthened to think of ourselves as capable in His presence.


And when He has passed by, open your eyes friend, and see the glory trail He has left behind for you to follow.

One Reply

  1. Diane Petersen

    Such a beautiful reminder. I love your words and the way your perspective caught the scripture. . .Let’s go crawl into the cleft and wait on the Lord!!! Isn’t He good. . .HE loves us so much, HE protects us from His power and glory as we would be dust. . .not so afraid of the dark moments now . . .

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