Friday, April 30, 2010

A Missed Moment...

"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water...'"
(Numbers 20:7-8)

The people were grumbling... again.  This time they were thirsty.  Really thirsty.  They felt like they were dying of thirst.  So Moses & Aaron prayed to God and God came up with a plan: Get the people together, grab your staff & command water to come from the big rock nearby.  So Mo gathered the people, picked up his staff... and whacked the rock... twice!  Water gushed!  The day was saved, right?!?  Wrong.  God was upset with Moses.

Tradition tells us God's anger stemmed from Mo's act of striking the rock.  Too much drama!  God said "command" not "brutalize" the rock!  Many of us clergy tend to gravitate to the dramatic side of things.  Maybe God appreciates more subtlety??

But maybe there's something more here.  Just before Moses struck the rock, he issued a statement to the people: "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" (v.10).  Now maybe Mo was using the "collective we" to mean God & him.  But more likely the "we" referred to Aaron & him.  When God was talking to Moses after the event, He chided Moses for not trusting "in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites" (v.12).  Did Mo think he'd surely have to HIT the rock for the water to come out (thus he didn't trust God's call for a mere "command")... or could it be the way he wnet about things put all the focus on him, not on God?  "Shall WE bring water for you...?" 

How different would it have been for the people to have heard something along the lines of: "God has heard your cries & knows your needs.  He wants you to believe that he will provide for you.  So I say to the rock, in the Name of the Most High God, 'BRING FORTH WATER!'"

It's human nature to want attention, adulation, and glory... even (especially?!) among those of us in the "shepherding business."  May God continue to search my heart & motives.... and remind me that it's my job to make God famous, not myself.  May I never have a "missed moment" to do just that...

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