A Hard Decision, a Hard Discipline

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  • Both Meirwyn and Robert had faced hard decisions, the latter involving marriage or singleness for the sake of the gospel. They waited. They prayed. God answered.

    When Moses, that sorely tried man, was approached by the daughters of Zelophehad (in Numbers 27) I wonder if he was tempted to say to himself, “Now what do these women want?” It was a hard case. Their father had died (because of his own sins), he had left no son, and the women wanted property among his relatives in order that his name not disappear from the clan.

    When faced with hard decisions, do what Moses did. “Moses brought their case before the Lord.” What a difference it makes when one lays the difficulty immediately before God. God answers.

    When there is perplexity there is always guidance—not always at the moment we ask, but in good time, which is God’s time. There is no need to fret and stew.

    This was the last decision Moses had to make before God’s revelation to him of his own and his brother Aaron’s death. Did he breathe a sigh of relief that his responsibility was finished? Did he flinch at the realization that his life was over? There was no complaint, only the question as to who would take the leadership of the flock. (Sometimes we worry about decisions which are not ours to make.) Moses knew where to take that concern.

    “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” In spite of all the trials those people had put him through, Moses never said, “I’ve had it.” He continued to shepherd them, carrying them on his heart for God’s very best.

    Decision-making always puts our faith on trial. Is our life our own or does it belong to Another? Will the Lord show us the way? Will we follow where He leads? Are we meek enough to be instructed? We are told that Moses—a powerful leader, God’s choice to deliver Israel—was the meekest of men. But he had had long years of training—in the care of sheep and goats!—the best training, no doubt, for dealing with a rebellious people.

    Yet at the end of his life he faced perhaps the hardest discipline ever required of him. He was not to be allowed to enter the promised land because he had dishonored God before the people. When told to speak to the rock he had struck it in anger and impatience. For that he was barred from the fulfillment of his cherished dream to reach Canaan; to which he had long looked forward.

    Moses was now redundant—a blow that crushes many a man—but he accepted this meekly and quietly. What a lesson for all of us.

    When faced with a hard decision, go to God first of all. When assigned a hard discipline, accept it.

    **Excerpt originally published in the January/February 1996 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.