Sometimes life wears me out. Sometimes parenting wears me out. Sometimes ministry wears me out. How about you? Can you relate?
Then I look at Moses. And I find that God puts everything in perspective. I’ve been in the book of Numbers recently, so I’ve been reminded of how many stinking times the children of Israel whined. Moses (the guy who was slow of speech and had murdered an Egyptian) wasn’t super confident in his ability to begin with, but he took the job to lead them out of slavery, anyway. He finally survived all the meetings at the palace with Pharaoh, and just when he thought they were finally on their way to making some progress, all the people started to turn on him.
What blows me away is how Moses consistently responds. The pattern is very clear. He runs to God. He asks for help. God responds and provides. They find something else to complain about. Repeat. They ask for food. They get manna. Manna becomes boring (every mother can relate) and they ask for meat. God provides meat. Water. God gives them incredible victories against impossible enemies. Still, it’s never enough.
Eventually, God gets so irritated with the Israelites’ faithless complaining that He’s done being gracious to them. Even then, Moses takes the high road and intercedes on behalf of these crybabies so the Lord will relent from destroying them. Only the spirit of God would give Moses the willingness to intercede for the very people making his life miserable.
I started thinking about how every one of our lives is really a journey through the wilderness. We live in a fallen, broken, sinful world. We missed the Garden of Eden, yet as believers we’ll see the Promised Land. Every day in between is a walk in the sand. And every day, we have a choice. We can go through the wilderness as a Moses or as a child of Israel. We can bring our struggles to God and be willing to obey Him and see His mighty works, or we can grumble. We can be the problem solver or the troublemaker.
Now, let’s be sure to remember that Moses doesn’t get it all right. At one point, his patience did dry up (pun intended) and he didn’t follow God’s directions exactly. The consequence of striking a rock was catastrophic. Moses would no longer be allowed to personally experience the Promised Land. In human measures, the punishment feels like it far outweighs the crime. This would be the perfect time for Moses to complain. He doesn’t.
Even when the Lord tells Moses that he’ll soon go up a mountain to look over into the Promised Land and then die, Moses’ response is epic. His concern is not a harsh punishment, his impending death, or one last plea for mercy. Instead, he asks God to please give the children of Israel another leader in his place. Moses understood to the core of his being that God’s ways were higher and that the journey wasn’t about his comfort.
As we turn from summer to fall, many of us start another leg of the journey. Have you decided to be a Moses? Or have you just defaulted to a complainer? When trouble comes (and it will – James 1:2), are you going to run to God and humbly ask Him to guide you? Or will you take the wider path of blaming and accusing the very One who’s already helped you to get this far on your journey?