This is not the kind of phrase you put on your business card. BUT have you ever said it? Probably not in a getting-ready-in-the-morning, getting-pumped-up-for-the-day kind of way- “Hey! I don’t trust God!” More like in that moment of self-awareness of disappointment that says, “I’m sorry God… I’ve fallen short, and I have to admit that the real reason is, as ugly as it sounds- You are my God… and I don’t trust You”…
These are the moments when you are keenly aware that you still have a lot of growing yet to do. I sure do. I’m here representing all of us that struggle with this.
For whatever reason- experience, birth order, whatever- my MO has always been to try to minimize the margin for error. Here’s the plan, now let’s think through what could go wrong and try to buffer those areas. Everything is a 2-sided coin. So when I take that same attitude into ministry circles, sometimes it’s helpful, but I think that may be the one thing, at the end of my ministry, that I look back on with the most disappointment…
Cause I’ve seen a lot… But there are things I’ve never seen. Because I didn’t go all the way to that place where only God could do it. Because I wanted to make sure it was going to be okay. So I took that prompting from the Holy Spirit, that gut feeling that God wanted something risky and uncomfortable and new and uncharted and I try to do the safe and dependable version of it… And God doesn’t call that “minimizing the margin for error”- He calls it disobedience. And the shame of it is that I will never know what might have been if… What if God’s plans were bigger?
I see myself in many of the stories of Scripture. Here’s a particularly scary one for me.
Moses has been doing very well. Better than I (or any of you) will ever do. This guy is no slacker. There’s a reason God picked Moses. Obeyed God to the “t”, got the Israelites out of Egypt, now leading them through the desert and putting up with their crap for what would be 40 years. You think your church is tough on you? Exodus 17- the people are giving Moses all kinds of grief, blaming him and complaining and making him want to die, “there’s no water” and God says, “Take your staff and strike the rock”. Moses strikes the rock and water comes out. It worked!!! Problem solved. Awesome.
Numbers 20 – again, the people are giving Moses all kinds of crap, blaming him and complaining. God says “Take your staff and SPEAK to the rock”.
Moses gets up in front of all the people, he calls them rebellious and then he strikes the rock two times, and water gushes out and people drink and are satisfied.
Moses comes back into the tent of meeting later on. “That was awesome God! Did you see me, I was like- “you’re a bunch of rebels! What do I have to do, make water come from a ROCK!” Boom! Everyone is drinking now, God, you’re the best!”
God says, “Moses, you blew it.
Because you did not trust me enough to honor my holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not enter the land.
There’s an argument that’s been made to say that Moses hit the rock because he was so mad at the people, not because he was being disobedient. Just a quick look at God’s response makes me believe otherwise.
He says, “You did not trust me.”
That just implies to me that somewhere in Moses’ mind it just not seem feasible that speaking to the rock was going to work, but what worked before was striking the rock, so he chose what worked before OVER what God said to do this time.
THIS IS ME! Moses was thinking the same thing I have thought so many times!
How many times in my gut have I sensed that God is wanting to do something new, something outside of my comfort zone, outside of my experience, and I start asking the “what if’s”…
Moses thinks, God, if I get up there in front of all those people and speak to the rock, and nothing happens…
- What if You don’t come through? Are you just going to leave me standing there? Are you just going to pants me in front of all those people?
- What if we pray in faith for that man to be healed, in front of all those people, and You don’t heal him?
- What if we make this grand invitation for people to accept Jesus, and no one comes?
- What if we invite people to grab a hold of our God-given vision, and no one gets it and it’s just me standing there looking ridiculous. And I will make You look ridiculous and your people will lose faith. And I don’t want that, God, so I’m going to protect you God from that, and I’ll go with what I know works.
So he did what worked before. And you know what? He got the water! Success!
This is what rings true with my own experience- even when I have cheapened what I believed God was leading my to do, by making it safer, I have still seen “success”. The worship set went well, the message was well received, the conference went off without a hitch.
But apparently giving the people water was the least of God’s goals for this encounter. Yes, He intended to take care of His people, but it was so much more than that- Because He tells Moses about the goal that was missed. You did not trust me by honoring my holiness. Showing them his awesomeness was what God had in mind, and Moses blew it!
How much more incredible would it have been to see Moses just speak, and water comes gushing out… God wanted to show off here, and Moses stole the show, did it the safe, dependable way, and cheapened the whole thing.
You dishonored my holiness in front of all my people! You did not trust me
Of the things I’d like to hear from God, “you dishonored my holiness in front of all my people” is really, really low on the list. “You did not trust me” is really low on the list.
- When I play it safe, I dishonor God’s holiness
- When I go with what has worked before, I dishonor God’s holiness
- When I lean on my strengths, I dishonor God’s holiness
- When I’m quick to cite the reasons “we couldn’t do that” or “that wouldn’t work here in my church”. It’s great that this is working somewhere else, but that would never fly in my church. When I do that I dishonor God’s holiness.
I could do these things and still see “success”… but God’s goals are so much bigger than that. How many times have I stolen away God’s chance to show off in favor of doing what is safe and dependable?
Oh God, help me to trust you more. I believe… help my unbelief.