Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.
We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”
Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us… if only we ask.next >
The Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men from Israel’s elders, whom you know as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the meeting tent, and let them stand there with you."
So Moses went out and told the people the Lord’s words. He assembled seventy men from the people’s elders and placed them around the tent. The Lord descended in a cloud, spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and placed it on the seventy elders. When the spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but only this once. Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the second named Medad, and the spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they hadn’t gone out to the tent, so they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
Joshua, Nun’s son and Moses’ assistant since his youth, responded, “My master Moses, stop them!”
Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the Lord’s people were prophets with the Lord placing his spirit on them!”
Numbers 11:16, 24-29next >
Out of his frustration, Moses asked for help, and God heard and responded.
Out of the community of complainers, seventy leaders—plus two!—answered Moses’ call. The Lord came to them, filled them with the Spirit, and set them to work.
Out of concern, Joshua was suspicious of the new prophets and protective of Moses.
We may be the frustrated workers for God, tired and overwhelmed and needing someone to share the load. We may be the followers who tend to complain, but are willing to step up when God calls. And we may be the worried watchers, who aren’t sure who God calls or why.
We may be any (or all!) of these.
But we can all ask for help. We can all respond when others need us. And we can all open our eyes and hearts to see God’s Spirit everywhere it is at work. Because we can all be the people of God. “If only all the Lord’s people were prophets with the Lord placing his spirit on them!” If only!
Nikki Finkelstein-Blairnext >
God, when I try to be “strong and silent,” free me to ask for help. When I tend to grumble and complain, free me to be a coworker and an encourager. When I feel protective or suspicious, free me to honor your work everywhere you are. Amen.next >
God doesn’t only change us; God changes the world through us. When our attitudes are transformed, God can transform the people and situations we encounter.
If only we choose wisely when options are hard,
if only we respond kindly when people are cruel,
if only we act boldly when someone is hurt...
May God use us to answer the “if only” prayers of our world.
Rev. Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards. :)
Carter Harrell: Making Space