Water in the Desert

A few weeks ago, I attended a Prayer Retreat at my church, and a passage of Scripture was read to us that has stuck in my mind ever since.

It’s the story about Moses striking a rock and water miraculously coming out of it.

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephicim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

God goes on to provide for them, and water rushes out from a rock, but there was something before this that struck me as being very interesting: God led them to this camping spot.

He knew there was no water there.

And He didn’t do it because He had any intention of leaving them to die in the desert.

He put them right where He wanted them, which happened to be in a spot with no water – and then He provided it for them.

How often have I found myself in a situation where there wasn’t any water? I get stressed and frustrated, sometimes even fearful, because I don’t want to die in this desert. I see no way out of the predicament.

But how often have I also received the miracle of water rushing from that rock, where there was none before? How often does God make a way where there seems to be no way?

At the Prayer Retreat, my pastor provided a bunch of rocks for us to take as a reminder of whatever God might be saying to us through that passage. I put it on a shelf by my bed when I got home, and I see it every morning, and every evening.

rock

Whenever I catch sight of it, I still seem to be catching my breath a bit – the idea that even in the driest, most impossible circumstances, there is the possibility of miraculous water.

It’s changing the way that I pray. I spot that rock on my shelf, and I start asking for the eyes to see the miracle. I’m reminded to look for it, rather than jump to the conclusion that because it’s not right there, it won’t ever be there.

He’s waiting, and He has no intention of leaving me to die in the desert – the water will burst forth! Watching and waiting in faith seems much better that complaining and despairing!

In what area of your life are you waiting for water today?

Move On!

…And it’s Friday! This week went by terribly quickly, somehow.

I have one last session to share with you from the retreat last weekend. It was based on Exodus 14:15, when God tells the Israelites to move on.

 

desert

Session 3:

We move on because we haven’t reached our final destination. And when we move on, it brings God glory, and grows our faith. But what happens when we don’t obey God’s call to move on? I shared my favorite example of how God taught me that in the times when I miss His invitation to the next adventure, He doesn’t punish me, but continues to give me other opportunities in the future…

 

image: photo © 2011 Moyan Brenn , Flickr

Be Still, and Move On

I’ve been camping out on a passage in Exodus for a few months. I’m speaking at a retreat in March, and the Scripture passage for the weekend is Exodus 14, the story about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

I love how much I have to learn in order to prepare for speaking at a retreat. That passage has stayed with me for a long time already, and I’ve been chewing and mulling over it, digging into it and praying about it, begging God to give me His words to pass on to those wonderful ladies I’ll be sharing the weekend with.

In Exodus 14, the Israelites have finally escaped from Egypt, and are heading off on their journey to the Promised Land. But just when they think they’re safely away, they look behind them to see Pharaoh and his army coming after them.

I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have felt like, for a few reasons….

First of all, God had promised  Abraham that He would bring His people out of slavery, and after 400 years, they must have been very ready to see the fulfillment of that promise.

And secondly, to think their escape had finally come, they had finally gotten away, and then to think that everything was about to slip through their fingers.

The panic that must have set in! There were thousands of them, and the frustration, anger, and terror that must have swept over all those people is hard to imagine.

But then Moses says to them,

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Be still.

Do nothing, and God will take care of this impossible situation for you. Amazing.

But then, the very next verse is so interesting to me:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on….”

Be Still

That doesn’t seem to go together. But this is the thought that has stayed with me for weeks. Be still, and move on.

Can I come to such a place in my relationship with God? To become still before Him, trusting and surrendering so completely that my heart is still and at peace, and to remain that way as I move on? To keep taking the next step, keep moving forward, living each day with such faith and trust, that my heart remains still as I keep moving through life?

It reminds me of the Oswald Chambers quote I shared with you awhile back:

Trust God, and do the next thing.

It’s a different way of expressing the same idea, but for some reason, this description of actions is sinking in even deeper for me.

Often, throughout my day, when my thoughts are building with tension and busyness, those words come to me…

Be still…

I try to take a moment to focus, take a deep breath, send up a quick prayer, and then…move on.

Two simple-sounding actions that are so difficult to do! May God give you the strength today to find rest and stillness in Him, and move on with trust and faith!