Monday, February 16, 2009


The title of this post does not relate to the Bob Marley song (though you should definitely check out the lyrics sometime - some good work in there). Instead, not surprisingly, it relates to the second book of the Bible; as in Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. I've been studying Exodus lately and it has given me lots of things to think about.

What I am focused on today has to do with the example of faith found in Exodus. Or, more accurately phrased perhaps, the fact that I can identify so clearly with the examples of people questioning their faith that are found in Exodus. Starting at the top, Moses speaks with God in the form of the burning bush. God calls Moses by name and tells him that he is being sent to Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. I don't know about you, but I have never had an experience like that. I have experienced God acting directly in my life and God directing me, but I have never had an actual out loud conversation with God in the form of a burning bush calling me by name and telling me what I was going to do. That would be a pretty powerful experience. But what does Moses do? He questions. Multiple times. Essentially saying something along the lines of "Sorry God, you've got the wrong guy."

Later in the book, God sends the plagues on Egypt and spares the Israelites until Pharaoh agrees that they may leave and the other Egyptians give them silver, gold and clothing on their way out of the country. But, despite these miracles, as soon as Pharaoh and his troops ride up the Israelites cry out - "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? . . . It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" Exodus 14:11-12 (NIV). Of course, we all know what happens, God provides the miracle of parting the Red Sea and then crushing Pharaoh and his army when they attempt to follow.

Three days later, when they have not been able to find water, the people cry out again - "What are we to drink?" Exodus 15:24. Again, the Lord answers and provides the means to obtaining drinkable water.

Later, as hunger sits in, the people again cry out - "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." Exodus 16:3. Again, God answers and provides quail and manna.

It goes on and on, but I think the point is made. Despite the nearly continuous miracles, despite needs being provided for, despite direct communications from God, Moses and the others doubted, questioned, challenged. Each time things got hard, they assumed that God had abandoned them. They forgot the miracles that they already had experienced and were living.

I think we do the same thing - or at least I do the same thing. In the midst of a downturn in the financial market, or concerns about job stability, or the fear of not fully understanding the plan for our lives, we start questioning. I have explained to people before (perhaps here, forgive me if I repeat myself) that I am apt to say something along the lines of "OK God - where are you? I thought we had a deal. I worship you, give thanks, request forgiveness and accept your grace (ok, that can be a difficult one, but that is for another time), why aren't you taking care of me in the way that I think I should be taken care of?"

Frankly, it is easy to forget the miracles in our lives. The whole reason that we take things for granted is that we take them for granted! We don't even see them until they are gone. Since returning from my most recent trip to Kenya, I have noticed some of those things a little bit more.

Here we turn a faucet and get clean, drinkable water - but get frustrated when it takes a while for the water to warm up for our morning shower. Where we were in Kenya they hike to the river or a nearby well and haul water by hand (and we avoided drinking even that water). If they are lucky they may be able to collect rain water to drink. Warm water for bathing (by that I mean water heated over a fire or a gas burner) is an incredible luxury.

Here we reach into the refrigerator to look for a snack or a drink and grumble about our choices. Where we were in Kenya there is no such thing as a refrigerator.

Here when it is hot we turn on air conditioning, or a fan. When it is cold we turn on the heat. Where we were there is no such thing as a thermostat.

I could go on and on and on. But, again, I think the point is made. Things that we take for granted and never even really think about are things that people in the area where we are working could hardly even imagine. Yet, we forget about these provisions that have been given to us.

I have had this feeling before, and I am sad to report that it goes away too quickly. But, it is one of the reasons that I get so much out of the mission work that I have had an opportunity to be a part of. Getting that perspective back is one of the reasons that I try to go as often as I can, and one of the reasons that I have pictures in my well appointed office in DC to remind me, and so that I can try to share it with others.

So, even though there is a long history of it happening, and even though God is definitely used to it, for today let's try not to forget those miracles and try not to look beyond all the ways that God is working our lives. For one day, in the midst of everything else that is going on, let's try to notice them instead.

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