by Sue Westhorp
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‘Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’ (Numbers 20:12).
Have you ever stuffed up? I mean, really stuffed up? Perhaps you made a mistake at work, sometimes referred to as a ‘career-limiting move’. Perhaps your actions caused a relationship to break down. Maybe you’ve even had failures in ministry, in trying to lead God’s people.
Today we hear about Moses and his stuff-up of epic proportions. Moses had been called by God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land – a holy role of authority, trust and prestige. Moses and Aaron also had special access to God’s presence in the tent of meeting, a place where God would appear to them and give them instructions for what they needed to do next. The people were grumbling because there was no water, so God gave Moses and Aaron some pretty simple instructions in verse 8:
Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.
Could it be any easier? And yet Moses, perhaps sick of the whining or maybe wanting to give a demonstration of his own power, disobeyed God and instead struck the rock. The result was the same – water flowed abundantly – but Moses’ lack of trust had consequences.
It can be the same for us. The temptations of power and authority can lead us to become impatient and lose focus on where true authority and power comes from – God. And we suffer the consequences, just as Moses did when God prevented him from entering the Promised Land – the one thing he had been called to do.
The good news is that God is not limited by our stuff-ups. We are not that powerful! Moses may not have led the Israelites into the Promised Land, but they eventually got there, led by Joshua. And so, God continues to work through us and despite us, calling us to repent and refocus when we stuff up and continuing to love us as we live with the consequences of our actions. I thank God for people like Moses who show us that God’s story of salvation is much bigger and powerful than the individuals who are part of it – including me!
Loving God, you are bigger than any mistakes we make. Lead us to repentance so that we can refocus our eyes on you. Amen.