Ruth Part Two

10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”
Numbers 20:10
Many years ago, I visited with some young married friends of mine in a bar in Alabama. In a corner booth of the darkened bar, I found myself engaged in an impromptu counseling conversation. They argued with passion about the way toilet paper was replaced in their bathroom. It was with difficulty that I tried to help them see that their disagreement wasn’t really about toilet paper.
One of the mistakes we often make in conflict is pretending that we are primarily rational. We ignore the ways that our emotions rush into our conflict demanding to be heard. We continue to talk about toilet paper instead of acknowledging that what we most need is to be heard, to be loved, to apologize, and to forgive.
In our passage this Sunday, the people of Israel confront Moses on the rational grounds that they were running out of water. But the quarrel quickly spills over the boundaries of logic. They unfairly question whether Moses’ leadership was from God. They denigrate the ways that he has provided for them. They spoke longingly about the time before Moses when they had pomegranates to eat.
At this point, Moses becomes the focus of our story. He brings the entire experience to God. God responds with a powerful affirmation of God’s presence. No matter the accusations, God affirms that God indeed was near to Moses! On those grounds, he empowers Moses provide for the people of Israel by bringing water from a rock.
Could Moses rest in who he was to God? Could he forgive the unjustified accusations? Could he bring the people back to a place of their common need for water? Could he heal the rift by standing with the people and receiving the provision of God?
As you can tell from the verse we have chosen for our meditation this morning, Moses failed. He chose instead to use God’s provision of water to win in his argument with the people who rebelled against him. “You, rebels! Why should we miraculously provide water for you?”
God provided water that was meant to be for Moses with the people of Israel. Instead, the water God provided was received by Moses while he was still set against the people of Israel. Water meant to bind and heal as well as slake thirst was unable to do all it was intended to do.
Jesus, you know the places where we are at odds with one another. You know the accusations and attacks upon us. You know our need. You know where our hearts are stone against one another. We recall those experiences… those people before you now. Come, Lord Jesus. Bring forth the Water of Life (John 4:14) even now within these places of stone. We ask you to lead us into healing and wholeness, reconciliation and peace. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Keenan Barber