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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
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)
Admittedly I am a “grass is greener on the other side” personality. When the going gets tough for me, my loving, patient wife listens to my rants: “I cannot keep working there. . . . I need to change jobs. . . . This is killing me!” or “We have to move. . . . I don’t like living here. . . . This place is killing us!” Truth is, I don’t want to struggle. Instead of working through the struggle, I just want a different opportunity, a different landscape.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit continues to show me that most times the real problem is me: my need to have control and my attempts at avoiding suffering. I don’t like the struggle, but it is in the struggle that I grow. And I think that is why the writer of Exodus wants us to read this story about the Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt and be slaves because at least there was water there. The move out of Egypt was killing them. And they are right—the move out of Egypt was killing their old way of living. And I am right—my job and my surroundings are killing my old way of thinking.
Here is where I think the Bible is brilliant. Yes, sin and suffering are killing us, but when we recognize that God is not killing us—rather God wants to rescue us and redeem us—we now can see the world in a completely different way, a new way, a transforming way. The good news of the Gospel is that we are not left to ourselves; rather God is providing for us the water of life that we need. God loves us through the struggle and leads us to a new way, a way of internal shalom (peace)—green grass on the inside.
Holy Spirit, please change my hard and stubborn heart; soften it, that I would allow the struggles of my life to lead me toward spiritual growth and maturity, that it would lead me to you and newness of life. Amen.
Written by Daniel Holladay, Senior High Youth Coordinator
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