When you are sad, tired, and angry, where do you turn?
How do you respond to your responsibilities? How do you function?
When Moses found himself in this situation, he turned to God where he found His presence to be a source of power and direction:
“Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock” (Numbers 20:6-8).
This is not surprising as this had always been Moses’ pattern. He experienced intimate communication with God and had always sought the Lord’s favor and guidance:
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).
When I read Exodus 33 I sense a humble dependence about Moses, a tenderness in him both towards God and as well as the people he led. But this time, Moses’ response was different. How could he walk out of the presence of God and walk into self-destructive disobedience? Why didn’t the presence and word of God transform him?
It appears to me that while Moses was still faithfully engaging in his spiritual practices and performing his leadership duties, he was not personalizing the truth of what God was giving him for the people.
In a previous entry, I suggested that“pain can dull our senses towards God”. We see that in the captive Israelites who were unable to rejoice in God’s promise of deliverance because they were so occupied with their difficult circumstances: “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery” (Exodus 6:9). Is it possible that this is what was going on in Moses’ life as well?
I am currently reading the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The author, Peter Scazzero, is a pastor who discovered a disturbing truth about himself. He writes:
The reality was that my discipleship and spirituality had not touched a number of deep internal wounds and sin patterns – especially those ugly ones that emerged behind the closed doors of our home during trials, disagreements, conflicts, and setbacks. I was stuck at an immature level of spiritual and emotional development. And my then-present way of living the Christian life was not transforming the deep places in my life. And because of that, faith almost died. Something was drastically wrong with my spirituality – but what? (p. 44).
I believe that while Moses was doing all the right things, he was hurting from some “deep internal wounds” – sadness, fatigue, and anger – that were not being touched by the emancipating power of God.
Scazzero points to the story in Luke 10:38-42 where Martha complained about Mary sitting down listening to Jesus while she was left with all the work to complete by herself. He states that “her duties have become disconnected from her love for Jesus” (page 49).
I have found this to be very true in my own life. I can become so focused on and overwhelmed by my work for God, that I lose sight of God Himself. My time in the Word becomes all about studying for a message, lesson, book, or article, but little about hearing God’s word for me personally. My time in prayer is for others or situations or problems, but not about my own heart. Rarely do I spend time just enjoying the presence of God for the joy of being with Him, but more often than not, I’m looking for Abba to do something for me.
One of the things I am sensing that God is saying to me is, “I need you to want more of Me.” God is calling me to work hard on nurturing an intimate relationship with Him; to serve others out of the overflow of my relationship and not just the capacity of my gifts and abilities. He is calling me to a place of spiritual vulnerability, to a ruthless examination by the Spirit and Word of God that are able to get at the very thoughts and intentions of my heart. Then and only then, can the emotional healthiness that is necessary for spiritual effectiveness take place.
Can you relate to this?
Are there dark places in your soul – places of emotional unhealthiness – to which you have not given God access? What are you going to do about it?