I’ve spent a lot of years of my life working hard to be successful. Climbing the corporate ladder, leading a conference, consulting, writing a book, etc., has lead to a constant focus on being successful. To say I’m driven is a bit of an understatement. I had never really considered how my success was often in disobedience to God.
Allow me to explain. Today I was at a retreat for work. One of the speakers was sharing this story of Moses from Numbers 20.
2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
As I reflect on this tonight, I realize how often my drive has led me in direct disobedience to God. In Moses example it might be natural to think water came from the rock and the people drank = SUCCESS. – OR NOT!!!!
Notice the passage says “Speak to the rock.” Instead, Moses struck the rock twice (as he had done earlier!) Although it produced the desired result, it went against what the Lord had commanded. And his punishment – the promise land. He wandered for 40 years, and upon arrival, Moses was not allowed to enter. Seems like a small detail with a BIG consequence.
I can’t help but look back at how often I have made minor adjustments to what God has told me, for the sake of my success. Because I either wasn’t listening, or thought that I could do it my way. The thing is, many times I was successful by doing things my way. But I can’t help but wonder what blessings I left behind. What “promiseland” was I not allowed to enter because I didn’t listen to the Lord?
So, I’m in the middle of an inventory. And a listening to the Lord moment. It’s hard to let go of control of something that you know will be so successful. So many things come to mind, but the big one is the book I have written. All along he has told me to write. Period. Not to publish it, or market it, etc. But, because I’ve made myself learn about the industry, it has been easy to think I could push for success. He’s been clear with me. So tonight, I lay it down. Not because it’s not important, but because it is up to God. He spoke clearly from the beginning, and I need to simply be obedient and let him worry about the success. And you know what – I feel a relief. Maybe writing it was as much for me as for anyone who may read it. Maybe someday God will orchestrate others reading it. Only he knows that. What I need to know is that I trust him and will be obedient.
As he stirs in me, I hear him whispering. I hear him reassuring me that he has a new plan and I just need to be obedient. So I hold my breath, and snuggle in to listen. Blankets over my head, I’m hiding from the world and listening for him. What I know at this point is that he wants me to listen to each of you. To encourage your dreams, and to find a way to make your dreams come true. To allow him to do a new thing. Gulp. I’m holding my breath and speaking to the rock tonight. Attempting to let go of my staff and simply listen to God! Trusting he’ll bring water at the sound of my voice.
Success does NOT equal obedience. I want to live in all out obedience, even if it makes me shake in my shoes and wonder what God is up to. Pray that he brings clarity! And that I turn me off enough to do what he wants done!