I had occasion to muse on someone I know being the kind of person, that if they'd been a Hebrew among Moses' followers, he might well have took God up on His offer of destroying them all and starting over with Moses. I wondered if Moses looked at his history at the end of his life and wondered if it had been a mistake to plead against God's desire to destroy them all. Then, as I read, I saw he had actually done so THREE times. And still I wonder, if at the end, when he saw the future played out before him, if he regretted it.
At least part of this was brought to me by events that happened yesterday. A very personal, family thing, which I will go into no more description than that my son had tried to remove someone from a bad circumstance- but it involved that person having to make a choice. Do I want to change my life... or do I just want someone to help sustain things as they are. In the end, apparently, the seriousness and the repercussions of the choice never really sunk in to the person; as a result they chose, as I put it, "to get some sleep, wake up the next day, and pretend it had all blown over."
And I bring this up because the situation strikes me in two ways. First of all, from the perspective of the person needing help. This person, it would seem, is the prisoner of their circumstance. When Kurt Cobain and Nirvana had their great success with the lp Nevermind, Cobain had the world open up to him- fame, riches, adoring fans, everything and anything he could possibly want. He hated it. The next lp was said to have been made purposefully bad by him in order to reject all that was laid at his feet- or as he put it in one verse, "I miss the comfort in being sad." He could not handle the change from where he was to where he found himself. But the "bad" lp shot to the top, spawned #1 singles, all because his name was attached. Seeing no other escape, he killed himself.
And this person is much like this. It is not that they don't want a better life per se; they just have been in the life for so long, and their mind set is so much like those they are joined to in that life, they can't imagine stepping out of it. But it gets bad enough they have to complain/cry/ask for help they won't ever take, because to help them is to change EVERYTHING, and that they are afraid to do- because it includes the necessity of changing THEMSELVES.
And I think maybe we all have that part of ourselves, that habit we "want" to break, that secret sin- but we can't imagine life without it, and we want God to "sustain us" in it rather than to remove it. Because then we are left with a hole we have no clue how to fill, and not enough faith to trust God to fill it. There is the rock thrown at me.
Now my son is dealing with the person's rejection of help, and here's where Moses' story comes in. You see, the first time he pled for the Hebrews, it was because EVEN THOUGH they had come through Egypt miraculously, and they had been freed from slavery miraculously, they decided to reject God and build an idol. They had seen what God could do... but in a matter of days shifted to "What have you done for me lately," and rejected God to go back where they were. But Moses pled with God to uphold His own glory, name, and reputation and forgive.
The second time was the rebellion of Korath and Dathan. Despite watching how God Himself led the people through the wilderness, and how God had provided for them through the prayers of Moses, these men claimed, "The entire congregation is as Holy as YOU are" and "Who are you to set yourself over us as a prince?" And Moses pled for the people, asking Him to overlook their ignorance in following the words of a handful of men. And they escaped God's judgment- though the rebels were either swallowed up by the earth or consumed by the fire of their own censers.
And the third time came THE VERY NEXT MORNING. Having seen what God had supernaturally done to the rebels before their very eyes, they grumbled, "Moses has killed the people of the Lord." And the only inference that you can make here, after God Himself slew the rebels, was that these people just weren't following the same god. And here, God spared no words- he simply loosed a plague that killed 14,000 in a matter of moments. And here Moses spared no prayers- he simply sent Aaron and his men into the camp with censers to "make atonement" for them before they were all killed.
And at the end of the day, it changed damn few of them. Even after all this, they grumbled for water. And this is where Moses did his one thing wrong- God told him to touch the rock with his staff once. Moses in his frustration smacked the rock three times. Did that change what God did? No. Did it change Moses? Yes- he lost a small part of the reward meant for him- and the fact that he stood with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration shows us that he was still rewarded for his faith and his efforts. Did it change the people? 600 years later everything they had was destroyed. What do you think?
Point being, sometimes we can do our job that God asks right down to the letter- and still no one changes. That's not our failure- and if failure it is, it is failure that Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel- yes, even Christ Himself- shared in. At the end of the day, some people will always want to go back to Egypt. It's the Choice. Our reward is not contingent on success, but effort. Our sanity is contingent on knowing when to stop casting pearls before swine.
Does that mean that we give up on that person? Paul tells us, "Pray for all men." But at a certain point, we have to leave certain people in God's hands. They have to want to come into Canaan.