We all reach a moment in our lives when we have simply had enough. For far too long, we have tolerated pain, injustice, heartache, or whatever else and are simply ready to do something about it. In that moment, we are ready to act, ready to be a catalyst for change, ready to make a difference. Although acting may come with its own set of challenges and risks, we begin to understand that our doing nothing poses a far greater threat to ourselves, those around us and society at large.
God has surely had many enough moments. A quick flip through the Bible is a testament to this fact! Yet, one in particular, that rerouted the entire course of history, is recorded in Exodus 3. 7 – 9:
“The LORD said (to Moses), “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.”
After 400 years of the Israelites living in slavery and under the oppression of the Egyptians, God had simply had enough! Every day for the last 400 years, the people of Israel cried out to God for deliverance from their taskmasters, and every day for the last 400 years, God made a mental recording of those prayers until He finally reached His tipping point. Something had to be done, and so God raised up Moses, such an unlikely hero given his track record, age, and speech impediment. But all of that didn’t matter to God; He just needed a willing vessel to bring His people out of bondage into a place of freedom and prosperity.
And yes, you would think that since God was involved, that delivering the people of Israel would be a cinch. But in all actuality, Moses risked a lot on their behalf. When Moses and his brother Aaron first approached Pharaoh about the matter, Pharaoh not only refused to let the Israelites go, but increased their labor. Of course, the Israelites responded negatively to this, believing that Moses’ quest for freedom only made things worse for them. Still, he and Aaron resolved to keep going back to Pharaoh until Pharaoh conceded and finally let them go.
Recently, many people in the United States reached their own tipping point, their enough moment. In July of 2012, a gunman walked into a crowded movie screening of the Dark Knight in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. Although many people were outraged over this incident, and some even talked about gun reform, for the most part, nothing happened. Just a few short weeks after this massacre, another gunman, went on a shooting rampage at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI, which demanded the lives of 6 more people. Rhetoric around reforming gun laws increased with this incident, but for the most part, and did not lead to any substantive action.
But this all changed on December 15. On that day, a young man walked into Sandy Hook, an elementary school in Connecticut, with semiautomatic weapons and killed 26 people including 20 children, and then turned the gun on himself. This particular occurrence was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and pushed politicians and ordinary citizens alike to do something. People could no longer sit idly by as innocent women, men, and children around the United States lost their lives to senseless acts of violence. Yes, calling for gun reforms was risky as it entrenched partisanship in an already hostile political climate, it divided church members against each other, and even provoked some of the most hate-filled rhetoric in the world. But people understood that doing nothing would only allow more episodes like Sandy Hook to occur.
Everybody’s enough moment looks different. The circumstances surrounding these moments vary from person to person and are distinct as the moments themselves. Even so, when faced with these moments, everyone must make the same decision – to either move toward it or to walk away from it. Far too often, however, I feel that many people choose to walk away from it. Like Moses, they don’t feel like they are the most eloquent or skilled to do the job, and so they ignore the burning sensation growing inside of them, hoping that someone will come along who can lead the revolution that was theirs to lead all along.
Others choose to walk away because they look at the challenge in front of them and believe it’s too large for them to do anything about. They believe that they lack the necessary resources, influence, charisma, or patience to do anything about it. Yet, I believe that is how we can know that the challenge comes from God and is not contrived from our own distorted passions. And when the passion, the moment, is conceived by God, HE will bring about the resources that we need to invoke change. However, we must also seek out likeminded people who will not only be a support, but who will walk the long journey of justice and reformation with us. They will be the ones to lift us up when we grow tired and weary, and they will be the ones to propose new solutions and ideas when ours are no longer effective.
As we move toward our enough moment, there is something that we must keep in mind – our actions must not further injustice in another manner! This is because enough moments are never about revenge; they are about ushering peace, justice and reconciliation. Enough moments are about bringing stability and the presence of God where it is lacking. So while the challenge that we are facing and the passion that is burning in us may be noble, godly even, we must seek solutions that will not further injustice or exploit someone else.