June 20, 2012
It was a beautiful day yesterday and we came up behind this Amish cart leaving Costco. We followed for awhile since we were unable to pass but somehow their means of conveyance helps me to slow down as well! Ester was with me and I asked her to snap the photo using her cell phone.
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We were recently walking through a company in the course of our chaplain visitation and Brooksyne had a rather unusual experience. I usually don’t carry anything unless I’m distributing some literature but Brooksyne always carries her day-timer that also serves as storage for literature, business and note cards, etc. Occasionally she will lay her day-timer down at a work site if she needs to free both hands. On this visit she had the following experience she’ll tell you about:
I had made my visits with all the ladies in a factory and was preparing to leave the building. Before doing so I was saying good-bye to the supervisor when I noticed that I was carrying a plastic shopping bag alongside my day-timer and couldn’t figure out why I had an extra bag on this day. I held the bag up to eye level to examine the contents and saw two or three large unopened bags of candy (M&M’s, Miniature Candy Bars, etc.).
Feeling very foolish I asked the supervisor, “Why am I carrying this bag of candy?” as though she would know the answer. She erupted in laughter and responded, “I don’t know but I sure enjoyed watching your face turn various shades of red.”
Embarrassed all the more I asked, “Do you have any idea where I picked up this candy?” ”Yes,” she responded. “You would have picked it up from the workstation where Sandy, Marlene and Mary Ann sits.” Shaking my head in dismay, I lowered my flushed face and headed right back to where I had picked up the stash of candy.
As I entered their workstation they all looked up as though they might be expecting me. I stammered, “I am so sorry, I must have put my day-timer next to your candy and unknowingly picked up your bag of candy as well.”
They burst into laughter as they told me, “We watched you do it, but we didn’t know what to say. We figured you’d bring it back, but when you didn’t we just said, ‘Well, she must be hungry.’” The next week I came through and dropped off pieces of candy at their workstation without saying a word. Each of us smiled with a knowing look of why I was distributing candy that day.
The above story illustrates one of the many reasons for faulty assumptions and misunderstandings in life and Numbers 32 has an interesting lesson this.
The background: The new generation is camped east of the Jordan positioned to cross over and move into the Promised Land. The leaders from the tribes of Reuben and Gad made a request to Moses to settle and consider as their inheritance the lands east of the Jordan, which were suitable for livestock.
But Moses initially misunderstood their request, assuming they were attempting to dodge their responsibilities in assisting their brethren in the conquest of Canaan. In reading the text, we see he sternly rebuked them for his assumption that they were shirking away from fulfilling their responsibility as part of the new nation.
However, they further clarified their proposal indicating that they would indeed be sending their fighting men to assist the other tribes and pledging that they would not return until the conquest was complete.
Moses’ tone changed with the clarification and he accepted their proposal, but reminded them of the consequences of failing to keep their word in our daily verse: “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”
Tracking through the history of the conquest we see they did indeed do what they promised and were commended by Joshua for their faithfulness in Joshua 22, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.”
There’s a lot of good teaching in this chapter but let me just focus on the initial faulty assumption and reaction by Moses. I believe it typifies situations that occur frequently in life and lead to problems in relationships in the home, church, work and elsewhere. Moses initially made a faulty assumption and based his response on that assumption. (Perhaps the leaders of the eastern tribes also erred in not being clearer in their initial proposal.)
Have you ever been like Moses and made a faulty assumption? I sure have. Communication, clarification, and when necessary, confrontation can help bring healing and understanding in relationships. May God help us to listen carefully to others and clarify as needed. Be careful with assumptions or you might just find yourself “barking up the wrong tree!”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and eager to give the benefit of the doubt to others. We often jump to conclusions that are erroneous due to our own preconceived ideas or based on past experiences. Give each of us an understanding heart, a forgiving attitude, and a discerning spirit as we relate to those who intersect our paths from day to day. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Joshua 22 (These tribes are commended by Joshua for keeping their promise.)
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