Tho it sounds a bit cliche, grace really is amazing to me. I have been blogging now for a few years trying to wrap my brain around it, finding myself again and again astounded by it. How could this God who cannot even look at sin continue to call to me lovingly for all those years? How could He want me?
Grace, to me, is this wonderful understanding that I cannot do anything to be worthy of His love or to lose it.
As I was working on a lesson for this week's small group, I wanted to find something cool, something profound and exciting, to teach. I didn't find it.
Anytime I teach, I want to be useful as an instrument of God, sharing His Word in such a way that others are moved and the Spirit shows up. I am not that powerful, even if God and His Word is.
Instead, what I found was this simplistic passage in Numbers 20.
The Hebrews had been wandering in the wilderness for 38 years, between the luxury of slavery and the poverty of freedom. They again begin to whine and quarrel at the lack of resources, the worst being the absence of water. In their despair, they complain that they did not die with the others.
I whine and complain, too. Being unemployed for the last few months, I wonder if I will ever find a job. It is frustrating and fear inspiring. I know people whose hearts are broken. I know people whose bodies are broken. Even if it doesn't show in front of most, there is a place within us that cries out, usually in the dark of night when we are most alone, for relief but worries that it will not come.
Moses and Aaron, just as we have seen them do before, take these problems to God. I don't always do that. I worry. I fidget. I scheme and plan. I screw up. Then I remember that I have a Power available to me.
Unlike my typical experience, God met them and gave them instructions on how to manage the situation. He told them to take the staff (the one that showed God's power in Egypt), speak to the rock, and water will pour from that rock to allow the people and their livestock to drink. What an easy answer to a problem that threatened to overwhelm the camp.
Easy for God, not so simple for goofballs like us, or Moses.
Where God gave emotionless instructions, Moses distorted them into arrogant anger. "Must WE...," he shamed the people and hit the rock twice.
Oh, how often I do that! I take God's words and add onto them, or I take God's instructions and personalize them for my ego. God said we are to do this? Well then I will leave everything, destroy my marriage, and give all I have emotionally. And it becomes about all I do for God instead of all He can do thru me. I make things harder than they need be, because somehow, somewhere in my brain, I know it can't be that simple. I know Jesus said His yoke is easy, but He didn't live in the 21st century. HUH?!
How often might God say to me, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of these people"? I really do want to believe that God can do things. Seriously. I just think He needs my help sometimes.
It is interesting that as I have been meditating on what God can do for me if I surrender that this passage comes up. To be relieved of my anger, my fear, my pride would be a wonderful thing. But to trust that He will put me in the right job is harder? In truth, to find relief from those character defects is even stretching my imagination.
Again, it feels like God is challenging me, "Do you trust me?" I wish I could answer, "With my whole being." For now the answer will have to be, "As much as my feeble spirit can, but I want to, oh, so much."
It is here that grace grabs hold. God didn't leave Moses altho He was displeased and Moses messed up. God still gave them water. God still allowed Moses to partner, imperfectly, with Him.
Father, thank you for loving a silly woman like me. Thank you for being here, with me. In my head, I know that all I need is You, but I wish I could trust in that as much as I trust in myself. Forgive my foolishness.