"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" (Numbers 32:23).
David Fisher is a sports chaplain and fellow encourager friend of ours from Canada. Several years ago we met after he stopped by our home and joined us for dinner. He was here for a game when the Toronto Blue Jays played Baltimore. Today I want to share an illustrative experience that David sent us regarding a visit to a Canadian Drive Thru restaurant:
"Recently I was with several family members and we stopped for a coffee at Canada's favorite watering hole, "Tim Hortons". We didn't go into the coffee shop; we went through the famous Drive Thru.
We paused to give the attendant our order and waited for what seemed like an eternity, but nobody was coming on the intercom to take our order. One of us began to murmur and complain using phrases like: "They are awfully slow here." "I've had trouble here before." "There's nobody else in line." "What's the problem?" I added that I had experienced a few "slow" attendants at this particular Tims. The driver was getting very exasperated.
It was then that I observed and realized, much to our chagrin, that we had stopped at the menu board, not at the place with the microphone and speaker where you place your order. We were "barking up the wrong tree" so to speak. We drove ahead a few feet, placed our order and were on our way in moments. Great service...and quick, once we got to the right spot!"
The above illustration indicates that there was some misunderstanding among David's family members. They had drawn the wrong conclusion regarding where to place their order. I have to admit I've made the same mistake at drive through windows, but caught on just a bit quicker than his party! We can so easily draw the wrong conclusions and make faulty assumptions in life.
Chapter 32 of Numbers has some interesting thoughts about misunderstandings and assumptions in human relationships. Let's consider the historical background: the new generation of Israelites is camped east of the Jordan. 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. Moses initially misunderstood their request, assuming they were attempting to dodge their responsibilities in the conquest of Canaan.
However, the leaders 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. Tracking through the history of the conquest we see they did indeed keep their word and were commended by Joshua for their faithfulness in Joshua 22.
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 which leads to strife-filled relationships in the home, church, work and elsewhere. When the tribal leaders approached Moses he drew the wrong conclusion, assuming they were not going to do their part. (Perhaps the tribal leaders also erred in not being clearer in their initial proposal.)
Have you ever been like Moses and come to the wrong conclusion? I sure have. Communication and clarification can do a lot to bring healing and understanding in relationships. May God help us today to listen to one another and clarify as needed. And be careful with assumptions, you just may be "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 our past experiences. Give each of us an understanding heart and discerning spirit in our relations with others we intersect with on our daily paths. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.