One of the things I’ve learned from 34 years of marriage is we take turns being brave. Sometimes Cyndi is the brave one who holds the line, and sometimes I am. But even though this has been true during our entire time together, I didn’t notice it until reading this story about Moses and God in the Bible book called Numbers.
The story of the Hebrews escape from Egypt, and their long journey to Canaan, is riddled with whiney complaints. The people constantly griped against their leader Moses and against God. And many times the gripes resulted in severe punishment from God.
Numbers 11 tells about one of those times when the people complained about their hardships and made God angry. It says God sent fire and consumed some of the complainers. The people then cried out to Moses for help, who prayed to God, and the fire died down.
It occurred to me I wish fire would consume all the complainers surrounding me, except when I’m the one doing the complaining, since my complaints are never frivolous but always legit.
But back to Numbers 11, which says almost immediately after the consuming-fire incident the people started wailing again; they didn’t like the food God had provided.
This time, it was Moses who got angry. Moses asked God, “Why have you brought this trouble on me? What have I done to make you so mad you dumped these whiney people on me? I’m not their daddy. How can I possibly feed them? I cannot carry all these people by myself (my own paraphrase).”
It was like this between God and Moses the entire journey. Sometimes God got angry at the people and Moses had to talk Him down, other times Moses had the crises and God propped him up and give him strength. It was fortunate the Hebrew people had both Moses and God with them, or they never would’ve made it through the wilderness. They needed one of the two to bravely talk the other down or the journey would’ve ended after the first complaint.
In reading this story I saw the same pattern in my own marriage. Sometimes I had to bravely talk Cyndi down when one of our children did something stupid or when the burdens of teaching school got to be too much, and sometimes she had to bravely talk me down when I got tired of living in a family dormitory and wanted to bolt to the mountains. It’s good we had each other so at least one of us could be brave.
Another similarity to Numbers: When Moses was angry, God have him strength, and when God was angry, Moses prayed and reminded him of his love and grace.
And so, in our human relationships, we can borrow courage from each other. When I went through multiple layoffs and job changes I depended on Cyndi to bravely carry me through, and when Cyndi went through retirement and starting a business she depended on my support and encouragement.
Maybe I’m humanizing the actions of God too much, or bending the reactions of Moses too much, but I don’t think so. These stories were kept for millennia so we could read them, relate to them, learn from them.
BY THE WAY: I’m certain this phenomenon of taking turns being brave applies to more relationships than just marriage, but marriage is the relationship I am most familiar with. I’d be interested to hear where it shows up in your life.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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