June 16, 2012
They were barely beyond the Red Sea when they defied the High God
—the very place he saved them!
—the place he revealed his amazing power! ~ Psalm 106:8 The Message
Psalm 106 summarizes both Exodus and my frustration with God's people. He saves them, they celebrate, and then they forget. They whine and complain, so he allows them to learn tough lessons. They repent, are restored, celebrate again, and then... they forget. Again. Repeat, ad nauseum. The story disappoints me because they are so annoyingly human. Try as I might to be anything but, I am human, too.
Presently in a bit of an exodus myself, I am clinging to sanity moment by moment only by the grace of God. (Which makes me wonder, how did I live so long without him? Literally—how did I survive?) It's true: I am simply more desperate for God when I'm wandering in the dry desert of life. My devotion is more radical. I work harder at maintaining a vibrant connection with Jesus, because I have to. It's that, or days spent locked in a closet with a box of tissues, listening to Patsy Cline.
In The Spiritual Maxims, Brother Lawrence wrote, "We ought to cease for one brief moment, as often as we can, to worship God in the depth of our being, to taste him though it be in passing, to touch him as it were by stealth... withdraw to worship him within the secret places of the soul." As I take the advice of this sixteenth century monk, I'm beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he said, "Don't run from suffering, embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how," (Luke 9:24, The Message).
Communing with Jesus deeply in my desert helps me understand God's frustration with his people in theirs. Sunburnt and thirsty, covered in dust, they were cranky and demanding. I would have been cranky and demanding, too. God led them into a desert, not a garden—and he didn't provide water or food until they complained about not having any. They panicked, which is understandable. But by focusing on what they didn't have, they wasted an amazing opportunity. Their attitude was fatalistic, rather than hopeful; short-sighted, rather than expectant.
God, help me to trust that you will provide, and please, don't let me waste my time in this desert. Thank you for bringing me here. I really mean that. If not for the desert, I would never have experienced your shade, which, in a word, is sublime. Amen.
They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert, provoked God with their insistent demands. ~ Psalm 106:14, The Message