Saturday, October 11, 2008

But I'm Thirrrrsty!

When I was a kid, we often drove to Idaho for a week or so in the summer. Five of us in one car for nine or ten hours, with a couple of brief stops for fuel or food. I don't think we had air conditioning, and the latter half of the journey was through hot desert. The journey seemed to take forever.

I remember during one of those trips feeling so very thirsty as we drove through one of those long middle-of-nowhere stretches. I told my mom, but we didn't have any water in the car, so I waited. And waited. And waited. I imagine it was about six forever-minutes later when I told Mom again how thirsty I was. I wanted her to fix it. She was sympathetic, but didn't give me any water. So I told her again. "Mom, I'm thirrrrsty!" She turned around and said something like, "Honey, I know you're thirsty, and if you'll tell me where to find water, I'll get it for you." Hmmm. I apparently hadn't thought about that little barrier.

Exodus 17:1-7 reminds me of this encounter. The Israelites were traveling through the desert on a very long journey from slavery to the land God had promised to them:
"They camped at Rephidim, 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 grumbled against Moses." How typical -- of them, of us, of all humanity! What precisely did they expect Moses to do about their situation? Their quarrel was not with Moses, but with God, who was not giving them what they needed on the schedule they wanted. Like me in that hot car on a summer afternoon, they became cranky and started to spread their misery.

And yet, God provided. When Moses "cried out to the Lord," God graciously gave the water Moses requested for the Israelites. "And he called the place Massah [which means 'testing'] and Meribah [which means 'quarreling'] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, 'Is the Lord among us or not?'"

God may have been waiting for them to ask, but I do not believe at all that He required the people to start whining and threatening before he would provide for their needs. I wonder what that place would have been named if the Israelites had approached God with trust instead of complaint.

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