Thursday, 17 November 2016

When words don't seem enough

I'd like to share two thoughts from Moses' life that I've been thinking about lately.

In Numbers 20:7-11 The Lord told Moses to speak to the rock so that water would pour out. But when Moses gathered the people, he became impatient and struck the rock twice with his staff. God was gracious and water gushed out, but because he disobeyed, Moses lost the opportunity of entering the Promised Land.

Moses biggest problem was he did not trust God enough. God had told Moses to bring his staff (v. 8) and Moses expected to use it to produce a miracle like he had done in the past. Just speaking to the rock didn't seem enough.

I understand how Moses felt, often it seems like my words are not enough – whether I say words, write words or even pray words. Sometimes it doesn't seem enough. I become impatient and want to do something, anything really, maybe even hit a rock with a stick.

We are like Moses in that we want to repeat something that we had success with in the past. Maybe write a similar book, maybe use the same marketing plan that worked previously or maybe enlist the same people to help us again. However God might be asking us to do something completely different and it just doesn't feel like it would work. It doesn't seem enough. Yet if we don't follow through we might miss the opportunity God is opening up for us.


Later in Moses' life we see him speaking out against the men who had begun to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women and had started sacrificing to their gods. Moses' leadership was ineffective at this point - an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman into the camp right in front of Moses. So Phinehas (Aaron's grandson) took a spear, entered their tent and drove it through both of them (Numbers 25). It is both a violent and sexual image that many Christian fiction readers would not be comfortable with.

This incident tells us that the younger generation were stepping up into spiritual leadership but they were doing it in ways that might make older people feel uncomfortable. Likewise as writers we need to encourage a new generation to step up, even if it means they are writing scenes that make us feel uncomfortable or expressing truth in ways that are more confrontation than we would like. God rewarded Phinehas' actions because he was zealous for God's honour.

The longer we are writers the more our responsibility moves towards encouraging the next generation to write and speak whatever God has put in their hearts.

And if they communicate the words that God gives them, it will be enough.


Susan Barnes likes to write devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at She is also a school chaplain and pastor's wife.


  1. Great post Susan. I used to think that Moses struck the rock twice because he was angry with the people not because he did not trust God. However, I read the passage you've shared and yes, God does say it was because because Moses didn't trust Him. I'm glad God gives us difficulties in our writing journeys because it gives us opportunities to trust Him. Loved the words 'It is enough'. Yes, doing God's will is always enough. May we do that in every sphere of our walk with Him. Thanks Susan. A great start to my Thursday. :)

    1. Yes indeed, doing God's will is always enough. Thanks Anusha

  2. Thank you Susan. God truly has given you a gift with words. I love your depth and insight. Yes, the words God gives us are enough and God used your words here this morning to speak to my heart and challenge me. I've been seeking God in my writing and I believe He has just directed me. Thank you for trusting God and using the words He gives you!

  3. Hi Susan, those are excellent thoughts which really challenged me. How often may we take those God signs to do something different as closed doors and lose our confidence? And when we're too reticent to step out and push the boundaries with new things, because we fear disapproval from the older generations who have already got things set in place? Thanks for challenging us with these ancient stories which really do apply to us too.

    1. Yes I love how God uses stories - ancient and new - to teach us. Thanks Paula.