“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” – Mark Twain
I’m Just Like Moses. . . .On a Bad Day!
This is one of those passages that gets under my skin because it reads “Jim” all over it. It speaks of someone who doesn’t trust God, but must make a show before the assembled crowd in order to legitimize their ministry. Yep, that’s me. I wore that hat like a noose yesterday, but I’ll get to that story in a minute. Let’s talk about Moses first. Don’t you always feel better when you compare your foibles to others? (Some holier-than-thou people actually call them SINS!). I know I do.
Moses had, by the direction of God, guided the grumbling Israelites into the Desert of Zin, where they camped at Kadesh. In other words, they were exactly where God wanted them. Upon finding themselves without water, they did the natural thing – they yelled at Moses. Moses in turn turns to God, who tells Moses, “Speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water.” You noticed, of course, that God said, “Speak to the rock.” Did you also notice that Moses turned and struck the rock not once, but twice?
God the All-Knowing was not at all surprised by the action of Moses and says, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (NLT). God, of course, isn’t in the habit of sharing His glory with mere mortals (Isaiah 48:11).
Moses struck the Rock (Christ was the Rock – 1 Corinthians 10:4) and said, “Must WE bring you water out of this rock?” (vs. 10, emphasis mine). Bringing water out of the rock was the Lord’s doing, not Moses’. But Moses wanted the people to see how powerful he was, how effective he was in producing miracles, how central he was to God’s plan. But God’s plan didn’t include Moses in the center of anything but obedience to the Lord’s instructions. Moses promoted himself over the goodness and provision of God, and it cost him his passport into the Promised Land.
And therein lies the sting. God is working mightily in our lives, performing miracles when we simply obey, and we can’t seem to get ourselves out of His way. At every opportunity we find ways to prove to people that we have a legitimate reason for breathing air and taking up space and we want to shout, “Look at everything God is doing through ME!” Okay, maybe I’m the only one who thinks this way, but it happened yesterday and God took me over His knee for it.
I was leaving a store when I saw a man who had left our church a few months earlier. Not long after he left I merged our fellowship with another church in town, and we’ve been remodeling our facility every since. As I happily explained to this former member all the good things that were taking place, I was also thinking, “Aren’t you just a bit jealous that your leaving didn’t cause our church to fold? Aren’t you envious that we’re doing better since you left? Don’t you want to come see our progress and tell me just how fine a pastor I am?”
I wasn’t in my truck two seconds when the Lord told me what a selfish fool I’d just been. Like Moses, I wanted to strike out and prove my worth. I wanted people to see me and be impressed. Maybe that man was impressed with me, but God wasn’t. My power wants to strike out, but God’s power speaks, creates, provides and guides His people in ways that are best for them, regardless of the perceived ego needs of the leaders.
Fortunately, God didn’t take away my ticket to the Promised Land. But He did remind me to keep my ego out of the way of His grace. Where God guides He will provide, and He doesn’t need me to promote my agenda to see His miracles take place.