Experience silence in the midst of your busy day. Take some time to relax into a time to be with God.
Numbers 17:1-11 (NRSV)
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites, and get twelve staffs from them, one for each ancestral house, from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff, and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each ancestral house. Place them in the tent of meeting before the covenant, where I meet with you. And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will put a stop to the complaints of the Israelites that they continually make against you. Moses spoke to the Israelites; and all their leaders gave him staffs, one for each leader, according to their ancestral houses, twelve staffs; and the staff of Aaron was among theirs. So Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the covenant.
When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the Israelites; and they looked, and each man took his staff. And the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the covenant, to be kept as a warning to rebels, so that you may make an end of their complaints against me, or else they will die.” Moses did so; just as the LORD commanded him, so he did.
In this passage, God gives resolution to the conflict and uprising from the previous chapters by promising to mark the leader of his choosing by causing his staff to sprout. It is a fine miracle in and of itself, to be sure, making a dry and seasoned piece of wood sprout green and growing parts. But when Moses goes to see which of the staffs, left overnight in the tent of the covenant, sprouted, he finds Aaron’s staff has not only sprouted, but it has put forth buds, flowered, and borne ripe almonds, something that takes an almond tree itself five years or more to do when miracles aren’t involved.
We don’t use this text to describe a formula for discerning God’s will, nor do we use it to generalize the nature of God’s communications with us. Rather, we see in this text today an example of “proportion” in God’s kingdom. We expect a little thing, in this case a bit of greenery on an old piece of wood. But God gives something so much bigger and so much grander than our imaginations would allow, not just a bit of greenery, but buds, flowers, fruit. God’s gifts are always way out of proportion to our expectations.
God of big and little things, we ask for patience in waiting for the times when your kingdom breaks into our days. We ask for wisdom to hear your voice when you speak to us. And we welcome the times when your grace and generosity take us by surprise. Surprise us again, oh Lord! In your son’s name we pray, Amen.
Go with God!