The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me to show my holiness before the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I am giving them.” – Numbers 20:12
You’ll find a really weird story in Numbers 20:1-13. The complaining Israelites are thirsty as they wander in the wilderness. Moses takes his staff, plunks a rock twice, and water comes out. It’s the same story in Exodus 17:1-7. However, in Numbers the tale ends with God mad at Moses. Why?
It’s because, in this version, God didn’t instruct Moses to do anything with the staff. He was just to tell the rock to provide water. The leader, though, didn’t have confidence in just speaking. He felt he had to help the Lord along by doing something that he’d done before, which was using the staff to split the Red Sea during the exodus from Egypt.
I don’t know how these two stories of the same event emerged, but this one from Numbers provides a snapshot of the dilemma of people trying to live by faith today.
Can we trust God to do what God’s promised?
We take up an important cause, but don’t see any results.
We pray fervently for healing, but nothing happens.
We take a risk in repairing a relationship, but separation continues.
When have you felt inspired by God, but then deflated when things don’t happen as you expect?
It’s easier for me to trust more in what I see than don’t see. It drives me to tap the rock a couple of times, just in case God’s forgotten.
It’s a balancing act: working as if everything depends on us and knowing when to stop and simply trust that God is wiser and more active than we think.
Our faith grows when we have the courage to drop the staff.