by Dale Reeves
I can still hear my Mom’s words ringing in my ears when as a child I had an alibi for why I wasn’t getting something done. It might have been a homework assignment for school, a chore I promised to do in our home, or a thank-you I had neglected to pass on to someone. And, after telling my mom why the task had not been completed, she would simply reply, “Excuses, Excuses.”
In our teaching series called “Stop” at church this past Sunday, I spoke about the unhelpful habit of giving excuses for why some of our intentions haven’t become reality. When we give God and others our excuses, we avoid things we need to get done. None of us set out to be losers, to fail, and not follow through on our good intentions, we just fall into the rut of lame excuses. Excuses hold us back, they disappoint people in our lives, they won’t fix our problems, and they’re not going to help us in the future. Sometimes we share excuses so often that we even start to believe them ourselves. If you missed last Sunday’s teaching, I encourage you to check it out here.
Golfing = Excuses
This past Sunday, while I was patiently waiting for my pickup order from Cracker Barrel for our Mother’s Day lunch, I had some time to browse in the store. I leafed through a fun little book entitled, 501 Excuses for a Bad Golf Shot. That’s a lot of excuses!! I may need to add that to my list of excuses I frequently use on the golf course. Last week some of our staff and church members participated in the 40th annual Mason Kiwanis Golf Classic held at the Grizzly Golf and Social Lodge. My neighbor Sam Slater (and his wife Debbie) do a phenomenal job with this event every year, and we love supporting Kiwanis’s mission of funding scholarships for deserving students as well as many other ways in which they serve the needs of children in our community.
Congrats are in order for our senior minister Brad Wilson and his teammates (Nick Borgmann, Zac Hughes, and Jake Santel), who came in second place in this year’s classic, shooting 13 under par. I golfed that day with Alan Baumlein, Jeremy Braley, and Aaron Weber. We were just a few strokes behind them. And you know why? Here’s a few of the excuses I made (or heard) . . .
I looked up instead of keeping my eye on the ball.
The wind blew into my face just as I was in my downswing.
The cars driving by were too noisy.
Someone cracked a joke just before I made contact with the ball.
I ate too many Skyline cheese coneys.
The geese on the course must have stolen my ball because we couldn’t find it.
My ball rolled right over a bare spot on the green, and it changed direction.
I used the wrong club on that par 3.
Dale was standing too close to me!
We lost all our momentum because of the slow players in front of us.
As we talked about last Sunday, most of our excuses stem from the fears that we struggle with—the fear of being a nobody, the fear of failure, the fear of another person, and the fear of change. These fears are most often responsible for the excuses that we give to others and to God. Sometimes we may feel like Moses did when God called him to deliver his people out of slavery in Egypt. “I’m a nobody, I have nothing to offer. There’s nothing extraordinary about me, so you must have the wrong guy!”
And God gently says to us, “It’s not about who you are, but about who ‘I AM.’” Jaki Howser led us in worship last Sunday and she introduced a new song to us called, “New Name Written Down in Glory.” I would encourage you to take a few moments right now and worship God with this tune.
I’ve been singing the words to the bridge in that song all week:
“I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am!”
What a powerful thought that is! The One who first identified his covenant name with Moses through a burning bush (I AM WHO I AM) still wants to work through us. It’s not about our own abilities, our own talents, or our own giftedness, but about the power of God within us to accomplish things for his honor and glory. And whenever you say things like, “I am not very good at that,” or “I am not capable of that,” or “I am ugly,” or “I am not talented like those other people,” you are forgetting that the I AM within you can help you do all things. As the apostle Paul tells us and as many people have claimed as their life verse, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
We all struggle with making excuses in some area of our lives. The real question is, “What are you willing to do about it?” Here are five positive actions you can take beginning today, asking God to bring about some transformation in your life.
- Choose Faith Over Fear—fear focuses on the problem; faith focuses on God.
- Stop the Blame Game—stop blaming what happens today on what happened a long time ago.
- Stop with the “I Can’t”—trust in God who specializes in doing the impossible.
- Refocus on God—it’s not about who you are, but about who HE IS!
- Don’t Just Decide, Do—stop talking and start doing.
The brother of Jesus challenges us with these words: “My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show you really do have faith? Can this kind of faith save you?” (James 2:14, CEV).
What’s one excuse you need to stop saying today? What’s one thing you need to start doing? You are not alone, remember that God gently says to you, “I am with you!”