I try to read my Bible daily. Sometimes, I’m in a hurry and breeze through it without much thought (honest confession time). Sometimes I think, “Oh, that’s nice.” Sometimes, I see the application of the verses for my life. And sometimes, God uses certain verses like a cup of cold water to wake me up. Well, that’s what happened this morning.
One of my passages for the morning was Exodus 15:22-27. Previous to these verses, God has brought the Israelites out of Egypt in spectacular fashion culminating His miracles with the parting of the Red Sea. This particular passage takes place 3 days later. The Israelites are wandering in the wilderness, waiting for God’s next step in their journey. And, the complaining begins. They are thirsty and the only water nearby is in Marah and that water is bitter, not drinkable. Even though the Israelites have just experienced God’s powerful provision during their exodus out of Egypt, they start complaining that He isn’t providing what they need. Moses takes their complaints to God and He tells Moses to strike the water, turning it sweet and drinkable. God then proceeds to command them saying He will take care of them if only they will listen for His voice and obey His commands. Then, I read the last paragraph of chapter 15. I’m sure I’ve read it before but I don’t remember it.
“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” (Exodus 15:27, ESV)
Okay, so they were grumbling and complaining in the waiting and wandering about water and if they would have just given God a second, He was leading them to an OASIS. Instead, they complained and God, in His mercy, provided for their need sufficiently. But, had they waited patiently for God’s best and listened to God’s voice because He was guiding them, they would have seen He was planning to provide for their need abundantly.
As I always do, I started to judge the Israelites. Seriously?! God just sent all these plagues forcing Pharaoh’s hand, He parted the Red Sea for them and then He collapsed the sea on the Egyptians who were pursing them and seeking to re-enslave them. Three days later they question His love and provision for them. Seriously?! (Insert face palm emoji.) It’s like when my kids open the plethora of Christmas presents and a week later, ask me for a new toy. Seriously?!
But, today God showed me my face in the faces of the Israelites. God has worked abundantly and miraculously in my life. He has never failed me. He has always provided. Yet, when I sit in a period of waiting for God’s next step for me, I often grumble and complain. I whine that it’s taking too long. I grumble, thinking I know the next best thing for me. That destructive thinking leads me to think God isn’t providing for me, that He doesn’t love me or that He isn’t leading me where I think He should. And, sometimes in His mercy, He provides me with a gift, a small reminder that He is there. But, what if one step later, after the waiting and wandering, He had something even more spectacular to give me if only I had waited patiently, listening for His lead. What if my grumbling and complaining led me to a small watering hole, when I could have been led to an oasis in exchange for my obedience and faithfulness.
I desire the oasis, why do I settle for the tiny watering hole?
Here’s my prayer for myself and for all of you who struggle in the waiting:
Lord, I confess that I live like the Israelites. I am prone to grumble and complain while I am waiting in the wilderness. I pray for your forgiveness and that I would be able to look to you in the waiting, discern your voice and wait for your best. Amen.