Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Numbers 21:4-9 (NRSV)
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
I may have missed my calling. Maybe I should have been a movie star instead of a pastor. I could have played the role of Indiana Jones. If you remember the Indiana Jones movies, you will recall that Indiana had a great fear of snakes, which is why I think I could have portrayed that character so well. I would not have had to act in those snake scenes, the fear would have been real. While my friends at the state park tell me that snakes are great creatures and have a very important role in the ecosystem, I’ll just take their word for it. I’ll leave the snake programs at the nature center to the seasonal interpretive rangers, and I will keep my job driving the park shuttle bus, being a life guard at the pool, or working the camp store and telling the park guests that a program is being offered at the nature center if they would like to participate.
Once you get past the snakes in this story, the Israelites weren’t much better. They had grown impatient with Moses and God. They were complaining and fussing. They were doubting God’s plan. Their trust had begun to wane. They were hungry and thirsty. They were probably hissing louder than the group of snakes that slithered into their camp.
I know that all the good Cumberland Presbyterian folks reading today’s eVotion have never complained to God, asked God “why” when bad things happen, grumbled against the Lord when things happen in God’s time and not ours, doubted or had trouble fully trusting God when our journey’s destination isn’t in sight. But maybe you have a friend who is a lot like these Israelites and you could share this evotion with him or her. Or perhaps, we look closer and see that the group of Israelites also includes us, with all of our complaints and grumbles directed at God. Even if snakes are not chasing us, we still need to repent and ask God’ forgiveness for the times that we complain about the blessings we receive, and the times we refuse fully to place our trust in God.
Gracious God, it is easy to fuss and complain when things aren’t going as we think they should. It is easy to grow impatient because we want things in our time instead of waiting on your perfect timing. It is easy to lose focus with the distractions around us. Forgive us for the times that we have sinned against you. Help us to trust fully in your timing, your plans, and your leadership, as we are thankful for your blessings. Amen.
Go with God.