“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).”
It has been a long, hot week here in southwest Virginia, but finally some cooler air has arrived. It’s time for a hike!
I really am looking forward to getting out on the fresh air, meadows, creeks and mountains of my home area this afternoon. I need the exercise and recreation, and so does my family.
Last winter I went on a slippery hike to a waterfall with them. It was there I found my walking stick. It seemed to fit me perfectly. It was curved and the right height. Unfortunately, we had to cut it some to get it home in my trunk, but it’s still functional.
There’s nothing like God’s nature to restore the soul. The Bible says as much: ” He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul (Psalm 23:2,3a)”.
As I said, I’m trying to get the family out with me because I know they need the R and R, also. Like every family, my constituents have their own agendas for the day. One son wants to watch the consolation match in soccer’s World Cup. One of my daughters wants to spend time at the library. My wife is noncommittal, although she is thinking of going.
I could raise a big stink and try to make everyone come, but I don’t think that’s my role today. The best strategy to me is a gentle nudge because my crowd is worn out, just as I am.
Like me Moses was the leader of his people, and in that role he had to listen to and carry out God’s instruction for them. Moses’s followers weren’t always in the mood to heed his program.
Once the Israelites were in the desert and quite thirsty. They began to grumble against Moses, and Moses took the complaints to God.
Like me, Moses had his own staff, which he used for many things. As shepherds, the Israelites would know that it was an instrument of comfort.
Heeding God’s directions, Moses struck a local rock. God was in attendance and made water gush out from the rock, thus quenching the Israelites’ thirst (Exodus 17:1-7).
Many years later, though, Moses was faced with a similar situation and used his staff as in instrument of anger. The Israelites were again without water, they once more grumbled, and God again gave some instructions.
He told Moses to speak to the rock to bring water out of it. Instead, Moses struck it with his staff, angrily calling the Israelites “rebels” as he did so (Numbers 20:1-11).
God wasn’t too pleased with Moses over his actions. He had given Moses his staff as a symbol of His care, and up until now Moses had used it as such (Psalm 77:20). By using the staff in such an angry fashion, Moses had misrepresented God. The Lord punished him severely for this (Numbers 20:12).
Like Moses on his journey through the desert, I too have a staff. I’m taking it on my hike today, but I don’t think God wants me to use it to beat my family over the head.
He has appointed me as the head of my home, and this authority is also a “staff” of sorts. Using this power to angrily command my “troops” isn’t God’s way.
He’s more interested in me using it in a manner representative of Him. Thus, when I exercise my role as a husband and father, it should be as one who cheers on my family, encouraging and giving hope to them. I should ease their troubles, not add to them.
God doesn’t want me to be a martinet, but a servant leader. Time for a hike. Maybe I can convince my family to come with me on a challenging walk, and do it in such a way that they won’t be moved to tell me to “take a hike”.