Sunday, May 06, 2012
The thunderstorm jarred me awake around 2:30 Saturday morning. After fifteen minutes, I was wide-awake. From experience I knew it would be a while before I drifted back to sleep. Rolling over on my back I listened to the thunder and lightning. It’s when I started to think about Moses.
Of all the Old Testament personalities, Moses is a favorite. Moses took on the responsibility of leading a large group of people to the Promised Land, the home God had promised to them. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized the forty-year journey the Bible talks about takes only eight weeks in a direct line from Point A to Point B. When you stop and think about it how many of us take a direct line anywhere? I have been on a fifty-eight year journey and I do not think I have rarely gone from Point A to Point B, paused, and said, "Boy you got that one right the first time!" Mostly I fumble around in the dark until I hit my head on the wall or the beam overhead and realize I might want to try a different way out of the room. That is where I can relate to Moses. He wandered around the desert for forty years and during that time, he relied on God to provide him with food, shelter, and safety. There was so much drama that this journey takes up four books in the Bible. When all was said and done Moses simply could not rely on the experience of faith that had guided him for close to forty years. We know tracking our food, staying within our calorie limits, working our exercise program, getting enough rest, all those real important things to creating healthy balance in our life; we know those things are critical, crucial, and important to us but how often do we go looking for other sources? How often do we go looking for "quick fixes?" When we can’t get in shape quick enough, the pounds don’t come flying off us quick enough, we lose faith, we become frustrated, and we begin looking for other alternative sources to. We who dwell in the 21st century are not about to put up with a forty-year journey towards anything. Shoot fire, we have a hard time putting up with a forty-minute journey. As the people who Moses led around the desert we periodically create those quick fixes, those idols that we believe are going to get us from Point A to Point B quicker. Maybe we starve ourselves or push ourselves to the point of injury because “skinny” is more desirable than “healthy.” I have been there and done that.
Moses had a tough job. It seemed no matter what he said or what he did there were always a handful of people who seem to know better. It happens at the gym from time to time. The folks that come up to me and say, "If you did…”
Moses went up to the top of the mountain and during his conversation with God, he shared his frustration. The people were complaining that there wasn't enough water. Moses sat there at the top of the mountain venting. Maybe it's not an issue of water for us Maybe it's an issue of a weight plateau, or sore back or” I'm just plain tired and don't want to exercise.” Maybe we lose our motivation from time to time. Like Moses, we get lost in the desert. Some of us are there longer than forty years. We know, intuitively, that if we have faith in the process we will ultimately achieve a healthy balance in our lives. God suggested to Moses that he go over to a formation of rocks, take his staff, and hit the rock one time and one time only. He would have all the water they needed. Moses gathered up his robes, picked up the staff and headed towards the rock. Moses lifts his staff and hits the rock one time. “If once is good twice must be better.” Moses strikes the rock again. "Third times a charm," Moses must have thought, so he hit the rock a third time. As I said, I have never had a water shortage but I have started thinking what would happen if I cut even more calories from my diet. Wouldn't I lose weight quicker? What would happen if I exercise for an hour everyday rather than thirty minutes? Never mind that my doctor, my trainer, my beloved wife, and a host of other wonderful friends who have made this journey successfully have laid out a simple process “Hit the rock once John!!!.
The water started to trickle, Moses felt satisfied and turned to walk down the mountain, another crisis averted. That's when he heard God asked him if he understood the directions, and like us, when Moses kept trying to come up with an excuse for not following the plan he ended up seeing Gods wisdom. There is a consequence to not following our plan. There is a consequence to being impatient. It takes us that much longer to reach our destination and we begin to become self-critical and doubt the process itself. How often do you and I receive signs and wonders by the very people God has placed in our lives to share their journey, their wisdom and their experience? How often do we ignore them because we seem to know better. I realize how many times a day I hit the rock three times figuring something that is good has to be even better if I modify it. In Moses case, he wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land because of his lack of faith.
It's the "P" word. Patience is such a hard thing to practice. It is why we have each other.