It’s a rare occasion when our Sunday morning messages mirror the ones at our college and young adult services but it does happen. Everyone has a story. We’re highlighting marvelous ways that God has moved in our congregants’ lives and illustrate how God moved in the journeys of several Old Testament characters. I am speaking on Identity Theft and how in the lives of the Patriarchs, God needed to do some heavy reminding of Who He is and who we are.
As I reflect on some of the struggles I’ve faced the past five years, coupled with Moses’ encounter on Mount Sinai, I began to meditate on the virtue of desert or valley experiences. My big frustration surrounded the thought that heaven was silent despite asking continuously for a solution. It occurred to me that we might not be able to hear God because…
We Whine and Complain Too Much
The wandering Israelites did quite a bit of this. Where are we going? Are we there yet? I have to go to the bathroom! How much longer? I’m hungry! I’m thirsty! I’m scared of snakes! It’s too hot! Where are we going again? Why have you led us out here to die? Were there not enough graves in Egypt? Moses who? It’s hard to hear the still small voice of God above the clamor of our discontent attitudes. #UGH
Our Hearts Are Hardened, Leading to Rebellion
Pharaoh wasn’t the only one with clogged spiritual arteries. After seeing the mighty plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the slaying of the Egyptian army, manna from heaven, quails, water from a rock…and you know, the pillar of fire thing…they still wouldn’t believe. In the midst of their obstinance, they questioned the leadership of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua. Actually Moses’ own brother and sister spoke out against him. Then there’s Dathan, Abiram, and Korah, and the thousands of people who followed their uprising. They chose to shut out the counsel and direction of authorities in their lives. Is it possible, just maybe, that God speaks to us through our…wait for it…leaders? We can’t hear Him if we’re challenging Him [those over us].
We Seek Out Strength and Help Elsewhere
Moses departs for a season to meet with God. The camp gets anxious and prepares to return to the land of their captivity, their past. Of course they need a god to lead them back so they coax Aaron into shaping one for them. Jehovah Jireh was no longer sufficient for them. They wanted another to be their leader and deliverer, one who would bring them right back into bondage. Well, that makes sense. But We do it anyway… Ironically, Moses was receiving the Law which would give them the answers they sought. Their actions silenced the very direction they needed…His voice. #yikes
We’re Afraid of God and Don’t Fear Him
“Just wait til your father gets home.” Scary and terrible words. All right sinful, wicked, dumb people, God’s coming. Line up! Fire, thunder, earthquake, splitting boulders. Quite an entrance. We’re scared, Moses. Make Him go away. He’s going to zap us. I can’t face Him because I have a guilty conscience. If we’d do what He said, there would be no problem. We are to fear God (meaning to place Him in the center, above else, assign to Him our highest attention and affection) not to be afraid of Him. He is our Father, not our destroyer.
We Focus on the Burning Bush, not the Voice
I mean this symbolically of course. Our nature is to pursue the thrill of the moment. Supernatural, signs and wonders, miracles. My fear is that they who believe follow greater signs. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to be the other way around. In the amazement of the burning bush, we neglect to hear the Voice.
Sometimes, we just won’t figure out why God does some of the things He does. There may be greater reasons we can’t always hear Him, especially when we struggle. Maybe He’s testing our faithfulness, or preparing us for an even greater challenge later. This I know: God’s silence does not negate His Presence.
“Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled” (Hebrews 3:15).