Reading: Exodus 17: 1-3
Leading up to today’s story, the Israelites have had quite a relationship with God. After hundreds of years in slavery, God hears their cries and delivers them from bondage. In the process, they witness ten miracles that lead to their release. The final miracle is so amazing that it becomes an annual festival that celebrates God’s saving act: Passover. Then, just as all seems lost again, God parts the sea, the Israelites cross over, and the pursuing army is destroyed. Shortly thereafter God provides manna each day and quickly follows that up with quail for meat. The people have seen blessing after blessing after blessing. In this way, many of our lives are like this. God blesses us in so many ways. We too can look back and see where God’s hand has been at work in our lives. Maybe we too should have a rock-solid relationship with God, walking hand in hand all the time.
But if we delve a little deeper into the Exodus story, we see another side of the Israelites that we probably recognize in ourselves as well. The Israelites liked the idea of freedom but grumbled to God when Pharaoh’s reaction was harsh. Then they tasted freedom, only to grumble about starving to death in the desert. They next complain about water and God leads them to a spring. They complain about food and long for Egypt and God provides. The pattern is pretty consistent. Instead of God’s miracles leading to deeper faith, the Israelites continue to show a lack of faith and trust time after time.
If we fast forward to today, the struggle continues. Today the sense of community has largely been replaced by rugged individualism. Instead of grumbling to one another, we simply put our heads down and try to forge a way forward. We grip the wheel a little tighter. And often as a last resort, we turn to God. We look back on the people that God called ‘stiff-necked’ and wonder why they couldn’t trust God after all He brought them through. Then we see a mirror and realize we are much the same. We cling to control. We too allow doubt and fear to creep in. We too struggle to trust and to live by faith.
Acknowledging it is the first step. Releasing control is next. Lord God, help me to yield all to You. Grow in me the trust that allows You to fully lead my life. Please.