by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld
“Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15 ESV
What I love about the relationship between Moses and God is how real it all gets. Moses spent time meeting with God “face-to-face,” the Bible says, “as a man speaks with his friend.” Wow. I mean, seriously, wow.
You can’t read the book of Numbers and miss what a whining, complaining, grumbling bunch of people Moses led through the wilderness (and before you think I’m picking on the Israelites, my husband and I can’t drive thirty minutes without a quarrel. So I’m pretty certain they’re representative of the entire human race on a forty-year wander with only McManna burgers and McManna fries to eat.)
Their complaining reaches such heights, there are moments when God tells Moses to stand back while He destroys them all (Exodus 32:10). He assures Moses He can create a whole new people using just Moses’ DNA. Moses intercedes for them, then marches down the mountain to have a word with his wayward flock.
Then there are moments when Moses loses it. If we paraphrase the Numbers 11 passage above, essentially Moses is saying, “Kill me now. I’ve had it with these people.” This is the prayer of a holy man who speaks with God face-to-face.
I’ve prayed that prayer under far less pressure.
Even after five-plus decades of following Jesus, I’m trying to go deeper. I’ve seen some amazing things following God – miracles, answered prayer, and transformed lives. I’ve also known disappointment, silences from heaven, prayers that fell back to earth like shot-gunned quail, and lingering questions about big theological issues.
What I sense about going deeper with God is this idea of being real with Him. At my baptism, they played the hymn “Just as I am.” Its message is that I come to God through Jesus Christ, with nothing to my own credit.
But, somewhere along the way, I started trying to clean up my own act before I appeared before Him in prayer. I started masking feelings and questions with flattering phrases and religious words I thought would provide the formula to getting the answers I wanted. My prayers often bordered on idolatry as I struggled to break the “Open Sesame” code that would pry open God’s fists that seemed to be clenched around my desired blessing.
I’ve discovered that “Just as I am” still applies. Even after knowing Him for decades. Even after reading the Bible cover to cover again and again. Even after a degree in Biblical Studies. Even after all I know and all I’ve done “for Him,” I still appear before Him with nothing to my own credit. I come just as I am in the name of Jesus and am welcome in Jesus’ name.
Sometimes, “just as I am” means lost or confused. Sometimes it means happy and content. Other times it means angry, doubting or “just kill me now, I’ve had it with these people.” It’s freeing to stop hiding from God and working so hard to get something from Him. I want to want God first. Usually, I come to Him wanting something else, but I want to aim higher.
So, I’m learning from Moses, because he was real with God. He spoke with God face-to-face, as one would speak with a friend. I suspect the reason for this is that when Moses met with God, he knew immediately that God was the real Promised Land.
Are you keeping it real with God? Start today and you’ll also find that He is your Promised Land.
About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.
Join the conversation: How do the words of “Just as I Am” speak to your heart?