The People

“So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.’ “ Exodus 17:4

When I was in seminary, a fellow student sat next to me in our Philosophy of Religion class. We were both youth pastors serving in churches in the area. I served in Fort Worth. He survived in Dallas.

People from the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have always had a strong rivalry, and they have never thought they had very much in common. Apparently they did then, and I am pretty sure they still do.

Each day before class began, my friend and I would catch up on our early attempts at ministry. I still laugh at something he said. His words were honest, and strangely prophetic. He said,  “I just discovered something. I love the ministry. It’s people I can’t stand.”

It is a rare minister that has never had a “Moses Moment.” Can I get a witness?

Moses was an intercessor. One of the hazards of his calling was the constant experience of being squeezed between the expectations of the people and the guiding hands of God.

Character building is a lot like making sausage. It is a messy process. The end product is wonderful, but watching it happen can be a bit disturbing. Moses loved God, and had a heart for the people, but even he could be prodded to a level of resentment. When he reached his flash point, he didn’t lash out at the people, he reached out to God. Well prayed, Moses, well prayed.  

Seeking intimacy with The Lord kept Moses from being intimidated by The People. Moses may have been a bit dramatic, but not by much. Undisciplined people who aren’t having their needs met or their preferences honored can turn a prayer meeting into a business meeting, and a peaceful congregation into a lynch mob in the flash of an eye.

Trips to Israel have taught me this much. The Wilderness is filled with stones, but more to the point. People who choose to wander in a self-centered wilderness will never run out of something to stumble over and mumble about. Those who intend to turn grumbling into rumbling will never run out of ammunition. Whether you live in a glass house or not, you can expect some of the people in your life to throw rocks.

It is impossible to remove all the rocks out of the path of The People. Prayer doesn’t make the rocks go away, but prayer places them in the hands of God. He has a way of making a pathway in the wilderness out of the rockiest of roads.

Moses cried out to God and asked, “What shall I do to this people?” Prayer clears the way to receive God’s direction for His people. The Lord turned the focus of Moses away from his fear and towards the heart of the issue.

“They tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’“ V. 7

Moses was in the line of fire, but the people were throwing rocks at God. This is the danger in mumbling about God. It eventually turns into rumbling with God. I recall the title of a Gospel musical I attended years ago in the city of Houston, “Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God.” Indeed they are.

NOTE TO SELF: When the preferences and prodding of The People provoke you to return fire, start praying. The cry of Moses was a call for God to step in to provide a solution, not ammunition. Remember. Jesus is The Rock. Give them Jesus.