Strike the rock

Daily Readings: Numbers 19-20, Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Psalm 42:1-2

There are many times in life where I feel like this. Many times where my soul absolutely pants for God like a deer pants for streams of water.

This water imagery comes up twice in our readings today. In Numbers we see the Israelites without water and becoming desperate. They come to Moses broken and fearful. I am blessed enough to have grown up in a country where I have never known a complete lack of water, but even drawing on times where I have been extremely thirsty on a hot day and forced to wait, it can be a helpless feeling. I can’t even imagine being in a situation as desperate as the Israelites faced.

How often does our soul feel that same sense of desperation, where we long for the refreshing, life giving water that Jesus provides, but feel like it is just out of our reach? There are definitely times where my soul feels a bit like I am wandering in the desert, knowing the water I am looking for, but having it constantly elude me.

There are many times where I struggle because the weights of life brings me down, I have a hard time giving them over to God, and I want to make everything work out of my own power. In these moments my soul pants for God, but accessing his loving grace feels as hopeless as the Israelites felt.

Then Moses struck the rock and water came pouring out.

Our God is a God of the impossible. He is a God that can bring forth water from the stone and refresh us in the most dire of circumstances.

Frequently I am standing there with a staff and God invites me to strike the stone, but I hesitate. He invites me to strike the rock, but I still want to do it under my own power. I insist on turning to other distractions to fill up my cup instead of turning to him.

My soul continues to pant and these distractions never satisfy.

As I continued on to verses 3-5 in Psalm 42 this morning, they really spoke to me. When I feel deeply like the author of verses 1 and 2, it is so important that I move on to verses 3 through 5.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

There are few things that fill up the soul like worship. When my relationship with God is purely studying his word and communicating through prayer, it is far better than nothing, but there is very little passion. Passion, energy, enthusiasm, and unconditional belief that the God of the Universe has everything firmly under control only truly come to me through worship. I need to shout with joy at his works in my life. I need to praise him for all of the blessings he has showered down on me, both earthly and eternal.

When I am worshipping God with all of my being, I strike the stone and water comes pouring out.

Our God is there and waiting.

The stone awaits and the staff is in your hands today.

Strike the rock.

Thought to ponder

When has my soul panted for God recently? What can I do today to strike the rock?

We all need a Jethro

Daily Readings: Exodus 17-18, Proverbs 5, Matthew 24

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law, Jethro, saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

-Exodus 18:13-23 

I frequently need a Jethro in my life. I need someone that pulls me aside and tells me, “What you are doing is not good. You cannot do everything by yourself. I know you are doing it to try to help others, but you aren’t truly serving them if you just end up burning out yourself.”

I think most leaders could use the message of Jethro from time to time.

Not only are Jethro’s words wise in regards to maintaining our own energy level as leaders, but learning to delegate also has the amazing consequence of empowering those we lead as well! Most people would like more responsibility than they currently are given. I have found this fact to be true repeatedly in business, coaching, ministry, and family life. People want to do more. They want to grow and develop and serve the organization well. In many cases, those people may even be better equipped to do that task more effectively and efficiently as well!

There have also been many times in my life where I have felt called to be the Jethro or a judge in this story. I see a leader simply doing too much and know that it is a need I could easily fill or that someone else I know who be glad to help out with. It is something I know could probably be done even more efficiently than the leader because of the background, knowledge, and previous training that I possess or the person I have in mind.

Every Moses needs a Jethro and an army of judges willing to step up for the sake of the organization.

In some areas of your life right now, you might be Moses and need to learn how to delegate and trust others. In another area God may be calling you to be a Jethro for someone else to show them how their currently operating and the long term unintended negative consequences of these actions. Elsewhere, it may be good for you to step up as a judge to lighten the load for the leader within your organization and to serve the organization as a whole with your skills and abilities.

It takes all three.

Thought to ponder

Are there areas in my life, whether at work, at home, in ministry, or elsewhere, where I am Moses and need to delegate more? Is there someone in my life that needs a Jethro, where I could talk to him or her about letting other people step up? Is there somewhere that I currently feel called to step up as a judge to help my organization, ministry, team, or family operate more effectively?

As always, thank you for reading! Your comments are a great source of encouragement! If you feel like someone else may benefit from this post, please feel free to share it!

Ignoring the burning bush

Daily Readings: Exodus 3-4

“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you.”

-Exodus 3:10-12

Throughout our readings in Exodus today we see Moses continually push back against God’s will for his life. God spoke directly to Moses from a burning bush. God laid out for Moses exactly how the plan would go. When Moses was still nervous that the Israelites would not follow him, God demonstrated for Moses that he would be there to help him perform multiple miracles in the sight of the Israelites if they needed additional convincing. After all of this, surely Moses would be inspired and motivated to go liberate his people! Moses was God’s chosen one to bring his people out of bondage! What an amazing calling!

And yet that was not the response Moses had…

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, 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.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.

-Exodus 4:11-14

How often in life are we like Moses? I know in my own life it is typically not a burning bush, but rather a combination of circumstances that seem to be God guiding me down a certain path where my life experience, God given strengths, and skills developed over time, can be used in a powerful way to further his kingdom.

This has occurred for me multiple times in regards to career choices as well as ministry opportunities. Many times, I have chosen to jump at God’s calling. In these instances God has always shown up in a powerful way when I have gone full speed down the path he has placed me on. However other times, I have responded like Moses.

“God, you have the wrong guy.”

“What if this doesn’t go well?”

“I am really not excited to take this on.”

Sometimes it has simply been, “I just don’t want to.”

The danger I have seen over and over again in my own life and in the lives of people I have had the opportunity to mentor, is wanting to project God’s will onto our own emotions. If we “aren’t feeling it” towards a particular vocation, ministry, relationship, etc. it is extremely easy to fall back on, “I think God is leading me towards…” We want to believe that our will for our own life must be God given, and therefore his will as well.

Sometimes that is absolutely correct and those feelings of nervousness, frustration, fatigue, etc. are from God and his way of pointing us in another direction. Frequently, however, it is just us trying to run from the task God has put in front of us. We want God’s will in our lives to match our will for our own lives! The key is never being afraid to ask ourselves, “Am I having a Moses moment? Is this simply me pushing back against God’s will in my life?”

There is no place in scripture that says we are going to going to feel constant excitement, passion, and desire to follow the path God has laid out for us. In fact there are many examples beyond just Moses where the opposite is true. Frequently, the people God uses the most throughout his story push back. They say, “Nope. This is not what you built me for. This isn’t what I want. Clearly you must have a different plan for my life. I need to follow my own heart and my own gut feeling.”

God says, “I will be with you.”

So the next time you are about to “go with your gut” or “follow your heart” on a decision that doesn’t seem to really line up with the gifts, abilities, and life circumstances God has brought you through, lift it up to God in prayer. Ask advice from Godly people in your life. Take some real time to ask yourself, “Is this a Moses moment?” in my life? Am I trying to avoid what God has clearly put in my path?

When opportunities in life seem to big, too challenging, too risky, or too stressful; we would always prefer to say, “God, you have the wrong person!”

God is always there to respond, “I will be there with you!”

Thought to ponder

Where in my past have I potentially had a Moses moment towards God’s will in my life? What is an area in my life currently where I might be saying, “God, you have the wrong person?”

As always, thank you for reading! Your comments are a great source of encouragement. If you think this post could be helpful for someone you know, feel free to share it!

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