Nothing lifts us like singing some of the new, heart-stirring worship songs. Hearing a Sunday sermon with the people of God encourages the soul. In giving sacrificially, we partner with God in his work in the world. Reading the Bible builds our faith. But the litmus test for trust is always obedience. No matter how long we serve the Lord, we never get promoted out of simple, humble obedience. The prophet Samuel said to King Saul after he had offered an unlawful sacrifice on his own terms, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Our son just learned to ride his bicycle. Already tuned in to how he looks, he hates wearing a helmet. We have this conversation every morning before he sets off for school. “I know it doesn’t look cool. I know all the other kids don’t wear one. But, right now we can’t afford brain replacement surgery.” Still, he resists and has run off a time to two without it. There’s a part in all of us that wants to sing the old Sinatra song, “I Did it My Way.”
Could it be that Moses was tired of the people always criticizing and nitpicking? Speaking to the rock was weak sauce. So he opted for a public display of personal power and smashed the rock – like a basketball player dunks a ball and intentionally hangs on the rim to shatter the backboard instead of doing a layup. “Who’s your daddy now?”
Still, God’s judgement on old Moses seems a tad harsh. He took the trophy away for what appears to be a minor oversight. We don’t have all the details and don’t know what was going on in Moses’ heart. We do know that God holds his leaders to a higher standard. If one gets sideways with God, they can lose everything they hold dear in the blink of an eye. James 3:1 says, “…you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Let’s remember he gave us everything we have, and he can take it all away. As Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”
Speaking to the rock was a small command, but the little things are big in God’s eyes. God still speaks to us every day, especially in the Bible. There are places in Scripture that are not up for debate. You don’t have to parse the Greek, or research the early church fathers. Just obey. Every small, unseen act of obedience opens the door for greater blessing in our life.