Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. . .And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. - Numbers 20:8,11
Poor Moses! I would not have wanted his job, to lead that bunch of whiny people through the wilderness. No thank you! I imagine there were many times that Moses wished he was shepherding sheep again rather than the children of Israel. But, he was doing his job, and when the people complained of being thirsty, he felt he knew what to do. They had done this before. The last time the people were thirsty, God had told Moses to strike a rock with his staff. He did, and the water gushed out.
Unfortunately, this second time, either Moses wasn't listening when God gave the orders or he thought to himself, "Well, God said to speak to the rock, but I know it works just to bang on it with my staff. I've seen it work, so I'll just do that again." Either way, Moses leaned on his own understanding and cost himself entrance into the Promised Land. Can you imagine traveling for forty years and never being allowed to enter your destination? What a bummer!
A similar thing happened to Jason several years ago. As the sound engineer for our church, he was given the task of playing the CD soundtracks for a guest singer that was scheduled to be in our morning service. We arrived early that morning so that Jason and the singer could get together and make all the necessary arrangements. During the sound check, I went up into the sound room to see how things were going. At that time, Jason showed me the list he had been given--the list that told Jason which tracks to play and in which order.
"But the song he's singing now is track 16, but he has it listed here as track 15," Jason said. "I wonder if he made a mistake."
I shrugged my shoulders, and unfortunately, because of timing and other issues, Jason wasn't able to check with the singer before the service. So when the time came to play that particular song, Jason had to make a choice. Play the number on the list or the next track, which he was certain was the correct one. He chose the latter, and the music began in the middle of the song. The singer had to stop and ask Jason to back up a track. Evidently, it was one of those songs that stretches between two tracks. When Jason looked, it was on track 16, but the song actually began on track 15, just as the singer had written down.
Jason was embarrassed. The singer was embarrassed. And I was embarrassed for both of them. It was a simple mistake that could have happened to anyone, but it proves my point very well. It's hard not to lean on our own understanding. We know how things work. We see how the puzzle pieces should fit together. We think we have it all figured out. It makes sense. It seems logical. So, why shouldn't we trust in that?
Honestly, because sometimes we're wrong! And how can we possibly know if this time is one of those times we're wrong? We can't. That's why God doesn't want us leaning on our own understanding. That's why He doesn't want us to try to figure things out for ourselves. That's why He frowns upon our plotting and scheming to make things work. He doesn't want our guesswork. He wants our trust. He wants us to acknowledge Him and to allow Him to direct us.
The old hymn writer said it best, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6