I wish I wasn’t the last, he groaned. I wish old Gandalf was here, or somebody. Why am I left all alone to make up my mind? I’m sure to go wrong. And it’s not for me to go, taking the Ring, putting myself forward.
Literature has such a poignant way of reaching to the heart of a matter through story. The quote above comes from The Two Towers, the second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The final chapter focuses on Samwise Gamgee, the fiercely loyal companion of Frodo, the Ring bearer. Through a series of events (which I won’t disclose in case you haven’t read the books), Sam is now on his own and in possession of the precious Ring. He is stricken with doubt as the weight of his responsibility sets in – he must continue the journey to destroy the Ring. Cue a flood of misgivings. Why me?! This wasn’t supposed to happen. I can’t be entrusted with this task. I’ll fail! Turning the pages, I follow Sam as he stumbles about, on his feet and in his mind, wrestling with the task at hand and his burning wish that the circumstances could be different. This task is not for me to carry out.
My thoughts turn to Moses in the Old Testament as I reflect on Sam’s struggle. In Exodus 3 & 4, God meets with Moses on Mount Horeb in a burning bush. God initiates the conversation, commissioning Moses to return to Egypt and bring the Israelites out of slavery; but the conversation is also riddled with Moses’ qualms. Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? What if they do not believe me or listen to me? I have never been eloquent … I am slow of speech and tongue.
Moses offers God all the reasons he cannot carry out this task. Deflated, he defers a final time and asks the Lord, Please send someone else.
Moses desperately does not want to go back to Egypt. What God is asking him to do seems too much – he doubts his ability, and his weakness only confirms he’s not the man for the job.
Reading Moses’ account in Scripture or Sam’s tale in the Lord of the Rings, I find myself struggling right alongside them. Caregiving continues to show me how much I deeply need Jesus. I have no strength to flaunt, no grace to give other than what I’ve received. Like Sam, I did not put myself forward for this journey; like Moses, my weakness often seems like all the evidence God needs to choose someone else for this role.
Sam, Moses, me, you, my dear reader – in following Jesus, each one of us is placed in a particular position in which we can know Christ more and serve Him. But how ill-suited we often feel for the journey, how inconvenient the timing seems. We don’t want to be chosen for fear that our weakness, our inadequacy will be illuminated.
But perhaps …
that is the point.
Perhaps we were meant to feel overwhelmed by what is asked of us; perhaps our weakness and inadequacy are precisely what Christ is seeking to illuminate. So that He can prove Himself strong and able through us. So that He can receive the glory.
Let’s return to Moses, briefly. God does not leave Moses to wallow in self-pity or to despair over his deficiencies. Rather, He promises His presence will follow Moses as he returns to Pharaoh and brings the Israelites out of Egypt.
“And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'” (Exodus 3:12)
I will be with you. God is reassuring Moses that he will not be left to his own devices as he walks forward in obedience. Moses’ fear is not magically removed, but his confidence is now grounded in God’s presence and the beautiful reality that he will never be alone.
I am humbled by God’s dealings with Moses. As I care for my father, I am daily finding that the Lord works best through my weakness and my willingness. Some days, I feel ready to face the challenges of my day; other days, I struggle with the smallest tasks that require more patience, more kindness, more grace than I feel I am able to give. On both sides of the spectrum, I am learning that Jesus just wants my yes. He is longing for me to rejoice in the truth that His strength is made perfect in my weakness (see II Corinthians 12:9). Oh how backwards that seems to us, friends. Whether secretly or overtly, we want to prove we are perfectly capable to manage on our own. We push aside our weakness and seek to stand in our own strength. But the resounding truth is this: the perfection of His strength shines the brightest through our weakness.
Each day, He just wants my yes, and each day, I find that HE IS WORTHY OF IT.