Moses, the Promised Land, and My Ministry.

The reality is that most who enter the ministry do so because of the love they have for God, the passion to fulfill their call, and to minister effectively to people. If it was for the money, most of us would not have chosen the ministry. (And we are thankful that God provides!).

However, that idealism can lead us to make the great mistake in which we take ownership of our congregations and people. The term “my church” should be used more so as a reference of belonging, not in reference ownership. It is, and will always be, God’s church! We are stewards of the churches that God gives us the pleasure of serving.

Consider the story of Moses as he leads the people out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. The people murmured constantly and worked against the purposes of God. They consistently undermined Moses’ leadership. Some of them tried to go back to Egypt (who had tried to kill them all before crossing the Red Sea).

Ultimately, God grew tired of the Israelite’s rebellion. He tells Moses (in Numbers 14:11-12):

How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?  I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Moses’ response was that of intercession. He pleads with God to forgive their sin as a testament to the nations. (Numbers 14:13-19). I’ve heard Moses’ actions lauded in many sermons. Some call him noble, others an example of intercession.

In honesty, I would describe Moses’ actions here a mistake.

The truth is that I cannot love God’s people more than He does. I cannot do for God’s people more than He can. I do not have the infinite wisdom to guide God’s people like He can. I am merely a steward and an under-shepherd (see 1 Peter 5:1-5 for the reference). Again, it’s God’s church, not mine.

Therefore, we need to be obedient to the call of God and follow under his auspices, wherever that may lead us. If God calls me to stay with a church or a ministry, it’s because there is a purpose to accomplish. If we feel God calling us to new pastures, we do so understanding that he is the Chief Shepherd and that His blessing will follow us. Sometimes we need to be an Abraham and go by faith and other times we must be like Elijah and stay and confront the problems in the land. Either way, it’s God’s call! Trying to intercede against God’s purposes is futile (as the stories of Abraham and David demonstrate).

Consider that even with all the powerful miracles, the face-to-face encounters with God, and the strong anointing he carried, Moses never set foot in the Promised Land. In the end, it was the murmuring of the people which led Moses from fulfilling the ultimate goal for his life (see Numbers 20).

Had Moses acquiesced to God and allowed him to do what he wanted, I believe the end of his life would have been much more than it was. I truly feel as though Moses considered the Israelites his burden and responsibility–That their failures were measured as the failures of his own leadership. For this reason, he felt as though he needed to go down with the ship.

Ultimately, what I’m saying is that it’s not our ship. It’s God’s! If he called us to a certain place, it was with a purpose. If he calls us to a new group of people, it is also with a purpose. We just need to do the very best we can while we trust in His guidance!

Consider your own life. Where is God calling you to be? Do you understand His plan for your life (e.g. Romans 12:2)? Would you be willing to follow that call in spite of the feelings you have for the people, your location, or your own comfort? It’s these difficult decisions that will decide whether you will fulfill your divine assignment!

Remember: God is not in the business of ruining lives! If he is calling you, it is always to something greater!

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” –2 Corinthians 5:7