No Short-Cuts To The Process

Sometimes in life, we are tempted to take short-cuts. What are short-cuts? They are things we think will get us to our destination faster when in reality, they only hamstring our journey of faith. They can take a couple of forms: Sometimes we believe in error that an inaction on God’s part means an action must be taken on ours. Often the one thing we must do when God does not act, is wait. Other times God clearly tells us what steps of obedience we must take, but we try to circumvent and expedite the process.
The practice of taking short-cuts appears throughout the Bible. One particular story I want to focus on today is Moses striking the rock in Numbers 20:1-13. To set the scene, Israel is camped in the wilderness and Moses and Aaron’s sister Miriam has just died. The place where the people are at has no water and they are thirsty and rebelling against Moses and Aaron. In their grumbling, they ask Moses why he brought them out of Egypt. They believe the wilderness has nothing to offer them and they will die. Moses and Aaron rightly consult the Lord and He tells them how to go about getting water for the people: speak to the rock and it will pour forth drink. Moses hears God’s command but his method of following the Lord is off:
So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them. Numbers 20:9-13
Moses definitely took a short-cut (he struck the rock) and the result of his actions was clear: he was denied entry into the Promised Land. So what can we draw from this story that will ensure we understand the full weight of obeying or disobeying God’s methods? Here are 3 points I believe God is showing us from this passage:
1. Short-cuts are evidence of a lack of trust; of a small faith.
Even though Moses has seen God move so much in the course of his life, he trips up and has a moment of weakness. He deliberately disobeys God. Even though it might seem like a small thing, God holds him accountable. Why was God so severe? I’m not exactly sure but I think part of it has to be the accountability Moses had as a leader. He had many eyes watching him and following in his foot steps. God sees Moses’ actions as evidence of a lack of trust and God is not amused. Our short-cuts tell God that we do not trust Him either.
2. Disobedience is the root cause for taking short-cuts.
Was Moses angry? Yes. That combined with the loss of Miriam had to have caused deep sorrow for him. Was he justified in his anger? I believe he was. However it did not make it right for Moses to act on his anger (yelling at the people, striking the rock) and display a pattern of disobedience. This is often where we go wrong…we find God is not doing things how we’d like Him to and we step in. We sometimes step in out of anger, out of impatience, or out of a lack of understanding. Whatever the case, it all stems from being disobedient. We stray from God’s best. To miss the mark is the definition of sin and Moses did exactly that.
3. Taking short-cuts keep us from receiving God’s best.
The ultimate blow to Moses is God’s punishment: he would not be able to lead the people into the Promised Land. What. A. Bummer. We can question God’s ways but honestly, God is God and we are not. The punishment for a short-cut might look different from situation to situation. In the end, all short-cuts bring us further from the plan God originally had, not closer. Moses originally believed he would enter the land with Israel but God does not allow it. What blessings do we miss out on because we choose not to follow God’s path?

If this entry hits home for anyone today, it is myself. I’m in a place of transition. I’m finding that moving from one stage of life to the next can often bring impatience and a temptation to question God’s plan. Often there’s a desire to just arrive at the place God has for me without going through the process of getting there. Maybe you can sympathize. If you’re there as well, please take hope: God is not a wrathful God or a “killjoy” who never wants us to experience good things. Rather, He has a will for our lives that is far beyond anything we could ask for or imagine. He sets in place methods which require obedience. Theses methods are not for our harm, but for our good. Furthermore, He can redeem bad decisions and mistakes we have made. He can bring good even out of our desire for a short-cut. God in His goodness restores Moses in a way that says He cared deeply for His servant: He gave him a glimpse of the Promised Land and Moses saw the hope laid out for Israel before he passed:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people…” Numbers 27:12
Let us continue on in faith today, trusting God’s plan…even when we cannot see it or it doesn’t make sense. He loves you and is for you. Be blessed!
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