by Daniel Ritchie
There was a time when I was convinced that I was never cut out for pastoral ministry. For starters, I am a natural introvert. I struggle in large social settings and I am often drained after spending significant time with more than a few people. Secondly, I could not stand the thought of preaching to a group of people. As a kid, I was always that one kid that sweated, stuttered, and shook all through project presentations in school. I was not exactly “ministry material.”
At least, that’s the excuse that I told myself and that’s the excuse that God quickly crushed in my mind. He led me to Hebrews 11 and the list of faithful people that He had used in amazing ways throughout the course of Scripture. These were all people that God used to change the world and yet these were people who had their own list of excuses why God could not use them.
The Faith Hall of Fame
Moses struggled with his speech. Rahab was a woman with an awful reputation. David was a man who fell into sin in very public ways. These were all people who had weaknesses, failures, and sins—and God still called them to be vessels of His glory and grace. Scripture points us to this group of people as examples for living out our faith with equal trust and boldness.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).
Coming on the heels of Hebrews 11, what many call the “Faith Hall of Fame,” the author points the reader back to these examples one more time. With this great list of faithful men and women before you, push aside all the sin and all the weight that life throws at you just like they did. These faithful people had sins like lying, murder, adultery, and prostitution in their past but by the grace of God they turned from them and pursued Him.
There are plenty of excuses they could’ve offered to God as to why they did not need to run their race of faith. Abraham had every good thing the world had to offer. Why did he need to give that up to obey God? Moses was on the short list of most powerful people on the planet. Why did he need to relinquish his throne for the sake of some Jewish slaves? Who would follow a man that was slow of speech? Yet he accepts God’s call to lead a million people to freedom. Rahab was already branded as a whore. Why would God’s people want to trust her?
God is More Than Our Excuses
The list of excuses as to why God could not use these faithful people would fill a book. Yet, for a God that parts seas, slays undefeated giants, drops indestructible walls and calls dead people to life—the excuses of man are feeble in view of His inexhaustible strength. He simply asks that you trust Him with the weakest parts of who you are and He will make His strength plainly evident.
God knows the race that lies in front of you. He knows all your inadequacies and insecurities. He knows the trials that are waiting for you that you cannot foresee. He knows all your failures in your past and your failures to come and He promises to be your source of strength when you are at your most broken. As Isaiah says in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
God’s Might And Our Weakness
The weight of your weakness is cast off by the might of God and your sins are removed by the grace of God. If we confess our sins, we know that the Father is faithful to forgive them (1 John 1:9). If we are entangled by our sin, we can ask the Spirit to put to death the deeds of our flesh (Rom. 8:13). Jesus founded our faith through the power of the cross and as the perfecter of that faith, He removes all the entanglements of sin.
All of the weight of excuse and disobedience is disbursed by the work of Christ and He simply asks that we fix our eyes on Him to see this race through. Focus on Him and look to Him and it will be Christ who will get you to the finish line of faith. There is a Faith Hall of Fame filled with servants of Jesus who can testify to His sustaining grace. Look to Him—and them—to run your race out to the end.
Daniel is an evangelist, speaker and author from Raleigh, NC. He’s written two books: My Affliction For His Glory and Endure (Feb 2022). He has spoken both nationally and internationally for churches, schools, colleges, seminaries, corporations, and professional sports teams. You can visit him online at danielritchie.com