Before I moved to the Netherlands I was involved with several global projects and committees here at the company HQ. One of the things my American peers and I often heard was a Dutch phrase – “Ja, Ja, maar…” Translated “Ja, ja, maar…” means “Yes, yes, but…” We would hear it immediately after a proposal or statement that was made by someone on the team. It would go like this…
Project lead: “So, we all agree we will move forward with the project on May 1st.”
Dutch guy: “Yes, yes, but can’t we start on the 15th.”
Project Lead; “We just talked about this for the last three days and agreed the project will start on the 1st.”
Dutch guy: “Yes, yes, I know, but, I think the 15th would be better.”
This would result in another three days of conversation. Sometimes we would fly over, meet for a week, make agreements and fly home. When we opened our mail on Monday there would be a revised plan. It became quite frustrating.
Today’s reading for me reminded me of the “Yes, But..” statements that we make all the time. My son has become an expert at them:
Me: “Son, did you finish all your homework yet?”
Son: “Yes, yes I finished it all but I have to do math still.”
Me: “Son, can you please take the garbage out now?”
Son: “Yes, Yes, but after I finish this level of the game I have been playing for the last three hours instead of doing my homework or house chores.” *
In Exodus chapters 3 and 4 Moses’ call from God to lead the people out of Egypt is a “Ja, Ja, maar…” moment. Here is standing in front of a burning bush hearing God speak to him directly and Moses is hesitating and doubting.
– First he doubts that he is anyone special – Ex. 3:11 “But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God explains His plan to Moses and reminds Moses that He will be with him.
– Secondly, he doubts that anyone will believe him. Ex 4:1 “Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”
God turns Moses’ staff to turn into a snake and back and turns Moses’ hand into leprosy and back as signs of his calling.
– Thirdly, Moses doubts that he is able to speak in a way to convince people. Ex. 4:10 “Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
God responds by telling Moses that He will be there with Moses. Ex. 4;11-12 “The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.“
Lastly, Moses begs God to send someone else. Ex. 4:13 “But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
Not surprising the next verses tells us that God’s angered burned against Moses. As a father of teenagers I can understand God’s anger. He clearly and simply addressed every one of Moses’ concerns and Moses still was saying “ja, ja, maar…”. Didn’t the fact that God was speaking to him enough to convince Moses that God was clearly in control of the whole situation? Where the demonstrations of God’s power enough? Wasn’t the reminder that God created Moses’ mouth enough? What more did Moses need?
God ultimately supported Moses and gave him Aaron as a spokesperson.
Is God asking you to do something today? Are you responding by saying “Ja, Ja, maar…” or “ Yes I will, but…”? Is God asking you to read His Word every day. Is your answer “yes, but I need more sleep.”? Is your answer “Yes, but I have too much homework or house work or office work to do.”? Or is your answer “Yes, but there is more time tomorrow.”?
If God is asking, then He will enable us to do. If God is asking then He is going to support us. If God is asking he will not step away and abandon us. Can you see how God could be using these opportunities for you to stretch and grew and build your faith and trust in Him. If you commit to responding to His requests, He will commit to helping you along the journey.
* Note: my son really is a good kid and this dialog is only slightly exaggerated (note – “slightly”) 😉