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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Exodus 17:1–7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (NRSV)

Reflection
The Israelites were still on the move—in the wilderness—and there had been one challenge after another. They had already experienced hunger. And God had already provided manna and quails. It was enough sustenance to keep on keeping on. Enough sustenance to allow them to continue being faithful.

Now they were thirsty. It was not a simple thirst, quenched by another swig from their water bottles, but a desperate thirst. Discouragement and complaining started again. Moses was an easy target for their complaining because he was their leader.

I’m struck by the way Moses leans so faithfully on God throughout all of this journey and throughout his responsibility of leadership. No one knows what to do. The people complain over and over again and direct all their complaining to Moses. And every time, Moses turns to God in prayer, asking what he should do. It’s a good reminder for us, isn’t it? To keep turning and turning again to God for direction in our complicated lives.

Moses was directed to strike the rock at Horeb. God assures Moses that water will gush out of that rock. And that’s what happened. God didn’t make the water appear out of nowhere, but directed Moses to the already existing miracles of the natural world. Water has been and can be found in rock formations. God works in and through the natural world to provide blessings for people. And so, in addition to being reminded to turn more often to God for direction, I’m reminded also about this earth and how we should care for it, so that its awesome, sustaining blessings can nurture future generations.

Prayer
Creative God, remind me to turn to you for direction. And also, open my eyes to the provisions of the natural world. Then, help me be more faithful, less complaining, and more cognizant of the miracles you provide in the world around me. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care


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