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Breaking the Cycle

What I'm Reading Today: Numbers 12-14

For many years now, I have looked up to Moses as a spiritual guide and mentor. There have been lots of reasons for that. For one reason, I can totally relate to how Moses responded to God's call to speak on God's behalf. Moses responded by resisting that call since he didn't feel up to the task. Another reason I can relate is that Moses was awfully impulsive. His act of violence against the Egyptian because of his mistreatment of the slave was a good example of that. The most important lesson Moses taught me in my ministry was that it doesn't matter how important you (or others) think you are – chances are you'll never get to cross over into the Promised Land. Good leaders all pass the torch to the next individual.

As I read today's passage from Numbers, I realized there was yet another thing that Moses can teach me – if I'm open to the learning. The new lesson is this: often, it is up to the individual who may feel wronged in a situation to break the cycle of blaming and set things right (if and when that is possible).

Today's passage began, for instance, with Miriam and Aaron complaining that Moses was getting preferential treatment from God. This ticked God off and caused God to lash out against Miriam and Aaron. And yet who was it who came to Miriam and Aaron's defense? That's right. Moses.

And later in the reading, we are told that the Israelites were vehemently complaining against God. This was the same group of people that had just threatened to pick a new leader. And how did Moses respond to the people? He responded by defending them to God.

In each instance, Moses understood that an essential part of being a faithful person is breaking the cycle of animosity – and being an agent of reconciliation in order to set things right. That's an important lesson for me to hear this week.

I wonder today if there might be a situation in your life where you feel wronged in some fashion: a circumstance where you feel totally justified in lashing out against another. If you have some a place in your life, take a deep breath and remember Moses' example. By spiritually grounding yourself in God's love and grace, you can break the cycle of verbal and spiritual violence and help get things back on track by doing nothing other than simply adjusting your attitude.

Til next time …

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