No-Fly Zones

No-fly zones first came into play in the early nineties. The objective was to protect civilians from bombing by enemy aircraft. The idea was that, if military planes came into the no-fly zone they could in theory be shot down, depending on the terms on which the no-fly zone was established.

Whatever their effectiveness, the intent of protecting a civilian population is a noble one, and a no-fly zone can at least provide some respite from belligerent military aircraft for beleaguered civilians on the ground.

In Numbers 20, Moses and Aaron set up a kind of spiritual no-fly zone, or perhaps more accurately, retreated to one. Verse 6 of that chapter records how in a time of real crisis, a crisis that was a matter of life and death, Moses and Aaron removed themselves from the clamour of the people to encounter God at the door of the tabernacle.

The Israelite community were about two years from the end of their desert wandering when once again they ran out of water. And once again they murmured and complained. And once again their leaders had to find an answer. Blame and recrimination lace the early verses of Numbers 20. If they were going to hear God, Moses and Aaron had to find a space where critical voices and confused thinking were not welcome.

No-one lives a problem free life. Even the most ordinary life has its difficulties and difficult decisions. Unfortunately those challenges often come charged with advice, some of it well intentioned, some of it not. Our world isn’t exactly in danger of running out of criticism and confusion. That’s why we need a spiritual no-fly zone. A place where we can meet with God, a place where we shut out the voices of the many and the muddled thinking that can kill faith.

Moses and Aaron met with God at the entrance to the tabernacle. They found the solution to a problem that threatened the very future of Israel. In the process, however, Moses ended up striking the rock instead of speaking to it, and at the moment he guaranteed the future of the nation he lost his own future and would never enter the Promised Land.

Perhaps, he didn’t police his no-fly zone tightly enough. Somehow he had carried into the presence of God his own pain, perhaps his frustration with the people, perhaps grief from the death of his sister Miriam, or both. And he had allowed that pain to shape his response to the Lord and to His people.

Establish your no-fly zone – the time and place where you meet with God. And as you police it, ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of the hurt or pain that might be affecting your response to the Lord and to the people around you. God wants to give you helpful solutions, but He is even more concerned that you have a healthy soul.


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