Summary: Moses, Pt. 13
GO SLOW, STAY LOW, DON’T BLOW! (NUMBERS 20:1-13)
What bothers you? Who gets under your skin? Why do those buttons go off?
Many years ago, Robert Schuller, the Crystal Cathedral founder, boarded a flight from Los Angeles to New York. His request to hang up his clerical robe was turned down by an attendant. Schuller’s attorney said the flight attendant told his client that hanging up the garment violated the airline’s rules. Schuller’s offer of a compromise was, however, accepted by a supervisor, which irritated the attendant.
Later, when Schuller’s request for fruit without cheese was turned down by the same attendant, he went to the plane’s kitchen to ask another attendant. On the way to the kitchen, Schuller in some way touched the same attendant, who jumped back and said, “If you touch me again, I will call the police.” An airline representative said Schuller “made physical contact with the flight attendant and the flight attendant was injured.” The flight attendant claimed that Schuller either pushed him or put him in a headlock, giving him whiplash-like symptoms.
Upon landing in New York, Schuller was booked, handcuffed and detained for up to five hours and the FBI questioned three other flight attendants and at least five other passengers. The flight attendant filed a $5 million suit, claiming he suffered neck and back pain during the incident and has been too traumatized to return to work.
Poor Schuller. Though he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor in criminal court, he had to give a public apology, pay a fine of $1,100 for the cost of the investigation and accept six months of supervision during which he refrained from breaking any more laws. In return, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the misdemeanor assault charges against the minister. Schuller’s insurance company settled the civil lawsuit for an undisclosed sum (Los Angeles Times, 8/28/97).
Moses lost his temper big time one instance - he was annoyed, provoked and offended. The price was heavy: he was denied entrance into the Promised Land. The reality of the previous generation’s dying, including the death of Miriam (Num 20:1), appeared to bother Moses somewhat, but the back-breaker was the next generation’s conduct. Like their predecessors, the later generation moaned about the lack of physical resources, gathered for an emotional group confrontation and lashed out like the previous generation.
What does God want us to do when we are upset, frustrated or tired? Why is it better at times to keep some things inside than to pour it all out? How can we honor God before others even when we are ready to scream or explode?
Offer Gentle Words When People are Stubborn and Troublesome
20:1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 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 desert, 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.” 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?” (Num 20:1-10)
The Los Angeles Times (9/19/95) had a fascinating article on trigger words, or words that will push people’s buttons. Everyone is supposed to have at least one that sets him or her off, and they usually start with the pronoun “You.”
The shorter triggers include “You’re cheap” or “You’re overreacting.” The stinging longer ones are “You’re just unrealistic,” “You are hysterical” and “You just don’t understand.” People of all ages have their least favorite remarks. Preteens and teens hate the moniker “Kiddo,” adults dislike hearing even sensible advice such as “Act as an adult” or “You need to grow up” offered to them and spouses never fail to react when the other half say to them, “You are just like you mother/ father.”