During my daily Bible reading, today, I read Deuteronomy 34--the death of Moses.
God had told Moses that as a result of his sin of unbelief he would not enter the Promise Land. And how was Moses's sin made manifest?
The people of Israel had experienced the mighty and loving hand of God as He, through His servant Moses, delivered them out of Egypt. The people watched as God parted the Red Sea to allow them to escape the pursuing Egyptian army; and they watched that same army drowned in the sea when God rejoined the waters (exodus 14:1-31).
From the Red Sea, Israel walked into the wilderness of Shur where they found the waters of Marah. The waters were impotable. The people complained. And God used Moses to turn the waters from bitter to sweet (Exodus 15:22-25).
Israel set out from the Wilderness of Shur, to Elim, to the wilderness of Sin. There, the people complained again--this time about a lack of food. God responded by providing bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:1-36).
Israel set out once again. Their next stop was Rephidim. And once again the people complained of a lack of water. God commanded Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, which caused fresh water to gush from the rock--enough to quench the thirst of all the people (Exodus 17:1-7).
Some time later, Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin (not to be confused with the wilderness of Sin), where they camped in Kadesh. During this time Moses' wife, Miriam, died (Numbers 20:1). Shortly thereafter, the people once again complained about a lack of water. And once again Moses and Aaron petitioned the Lord on behalf of the people. This time, the Lord commanded Moses, not to strike the rock, but to tell the rock to yield water (Numbers 20:2-9).
Moses disobeyed. He struck the rock with his staff--not once, but twice (Numbers 20:10-13). As a result, God would not allow Moses to enter the Promise Land. But God--in addition to being holy, righteous, and just--is also loving, merciful, and kind. While God would not allow Moses to enter the Promise Land, God allowed Moses to see it before he died (Deuteronomy 34:4-7).
Although I've read the above accounts many times, this morning I was reminded of how many times I have struck the rock, so to speak, when I know I shouldn't have.
There have been times in my life (and I can only hope I will not make the same mistake in the future) when, knowing what God would have me do (by the clear teaching of His Word and/or godly counsel), I decided to strike out on my own. I decided that while God's apparent plan was good, the plan somehow needed the additional support of my experience, ingenuity, attitude, or some other fallible characteristic I assumed I had to offer.
Without fail, each and ever time I've done this (at least the times I can remember) the results were bad--even disastrous. I wonder how many times I've missed out on God's blessings because I chose to "strike the rock"--I chose to do things my way instead of God's way.