Have you ever felt like God has you in his sights? Most of us have at least once or twice. It's not a good feeling, but at the same time, I'm not sure it's something to really worry about. You see, I'm a United Methodist, have been all my life, and in the Methodist church we don't hear that much about God getting ticked off. At least not in the Methodist churches that I've been in. I know the stories, though, and I know there are places in scripture where God does get ticked, and I ran across one of them this morning.
It's in the book of Numbers, chapter 16. God was talking to Moses and told him to, and I quote, "Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." (16:45) By the time it was all over, nearly 15,000 people had died because they had "become insolent and risen up against Moses." 15,000? Really God? I mean, was that really necessary?
Here's my rub with this...all of my life I have heard of the God of grace, and for that I'm thankful. God is a loving God, who desires that not one be lost. God is a gracious God, slow to anger and quick to forgive. But what do we do with stories like this? It would be easy to sweep them under the rug and pretend they weren't there, but I can't do that and remain true to my calling. So I dig, and I soul search, and I try to make sense of the fact that ALL of the stories somehow meld into one complete whole. It's not easy, and it's not always comfortable, but I'm OK with that.
The Good News is this...those stories are part of our history as the people of God, no doubt, but something happened a little later so that our story doesn't have to end the same way...standing in front of the tent of meeting, with God telling those around us to get out of the way before he hits the "smite" button.
In a few weeks, we'll see a whole different side of God, and for that I'm thankful. In a few weeks, we'll gather with a motley crew of misfits, and hear about a new covenant as we recline around a table in a borrowed room. In a few weeks, we'll be witnesses to the evils of this kingdom, and the love of another. In a few weeks, we will see beyond the shadow of a doubt, that even though there may be times we feel that God has us in his sights, it's not for the reason we may think.
May your Lenten journey be one of self-searching coupled with the realization that you are loved by God.