Reading: Exodus 17: 5-7
Verses 5 and 6: Walk on ahead of the people… I will stand there before you.
At times we have all experienced flaps and disagreements in our churches. Generally speaking these conflicts are not over large theological issues. These issues, for the most part, have been hashed out and settled as the different denominations have formed and defined themselves. Today the conflicts tend to center around personal preferences and choices. But some of the conflicts center around important and path-altering issues or decisions. Such is the conflict Moses faces today, at least on the surface.
The central issue is the lack of water for the people and the livestock. Water is an essential of life so it is a need, not a want or a personal preference. But the issue is brought forth with much grumbling and a bit of complaining. It is not an open and honest conversation. Couched within the need is a questioning of both Moses’ leadership and God’s care for the people. Conflict often has multiple layers to it.
Moses has some options on how he could handle the situation. At first one can read some frustration into his words with God. Moses could go to the grumblers and react back out of his emotional hurt. But this does no good so he instead seeks out the one who can give him a little guidance and some empathy. Moses turns to God and God gives him guidance, directions, and reassurance. God instructs Moses to “walk on ahead of the people”. He is instructed to take some elders along – wise and trusted leaders, not the grumblers. ‘Gather some support around you’ is what God is saying here. God then says, “I will stand there before you”. God will be there with Moses. Then strike the rock and water will pour out. God will meet the need and He will be present for Moses, bringing him reassurance as God reinforces Moses’ leadership role.
Moses’ example gives us good steps to follow when we feel caught up in conflict. Don’t take it personal, seek God as trusted friend and guide, proceed forward in God’s presence. Doing so, we know that God is in our thoughts and decisions and that God is in control.