When Saying Yes Is More Than You Bargained For
"Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
When one agrees to become an employee or start their own business they say Yes to many things. Yes to the invitation to be present at the workplace. Yes to the hours. Yes to the salary. Yes to work with the people employed there. Yes to being capable and willing to do the tasks of the employment. We may not know every detail when we agree to a place of employment, but we say Yes to the things we know.
But, what do you do when what you agreed to becomes more than you bargained for? What do you do when you feel trapped, held back, or even downright misled?
Moses agrees, however reluctantly, in Exodus 3-4 to lead God’s people, Israel, out of captivity in Egypt and into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In doing so he said Yes to confronting pharaoh, going back to land he abandoned, being a representative of Yahweh, and the public voice of God through his brother Aaron.
Yet Moses often felt trapped and bogged down by his calling. He felt overwhelmed by the needs of the people. Moses asks God a few times why he makes him work with this people. This wilderness walking is not what he signed up for. Israel was a stiff-necked people who constantly put Moses in stressful positions and God in a place of merciful forgiveness.
So, Moses appeals to God in Exodus 33 to once again go before him and the people. Moses knows God has an intimate relationship with him when he acknowledges that God “knows his name.” So he asks God, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” Moses asks God to teach him God’s ways so that he can lead the people who are God's nation.
God promises to be present with both Moses and the nation, so that “In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
When we feel overwhelmed, trapped, or held back in our workplaces, we should—like Moses—call out to God and, once again, remind ourselves that he knows us intimately. He knows your name. We should ask God to once again go before us so that he might be uniquely present in our lives and workplace.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What have you said "Yes" to that you now complain about at work? Do you complain about the hours, salary, coworkers, or tasks? How would inviting God to be present at work make a difference in your work environment and relationships? Do you feel "called" to this line of work?
Prayer: Lord God, just as you called Moses, so too you have called me to this work, at this time, in this place, with these people. It is hard work. It is stressful. It is sometimes more than I bargained for. I sometimes want to simply walk away. Help me do what you have called and equipped me to do, in the place you have called me to do it, with the people you have called me to labor with. If this is not the place for me, help me transition with grace, honoring the old and welcoming the new. If I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways and go before me. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Greg Mamula is the Associate Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Nebraska. He speaks, writes, leads training events, preaches, and participates in conversations regarding the missional church and church health with American Baptist Churches. Read more from Greg at Shaped By The Story.
WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK IN YOUR WORK—and how can you move forward? This article is part of a series at The High Calling addressing that question directly. If you feel held back in your work, or know someone who is frustrated and could use a reassuring Christian perspective, share some encouragement with those folks by sending an article to them via email or social media.