Sunday’s Scripture ~ Exodus 17:1-7
Our Scripture text this week speaks to a very raw and vulnerable portion of my life – worry. The text does not use the word worry, but it is worry defined. The Hebrews are in a unfamiliar place – reunited with the God who seems unfamiliar as they believed God had forgotten them in their suffering in Egypt – and led by a somewhat suspicious guy because he was once Team Pharaoh and is now Team Elohim. Their identity – all they have ever known of themselves, day to day living, and expectations in life – has shifted. No longer slave but free. No longer many gods but one God. No longer in Egypt but in the wilderness.
Egypt was not a cakewalk – not even a bread walk some days – but there were absolutes in Egypt. The Hebrews knew as long as they met their production quota they would eat, drink, and survive with minimal harm. Leaving Egypt and enjoying the fruits of freedom also meant that the wells in Egypt – wells that came at such high costs but were wells none the less – dried up. In the wilderness with Moses and God the Hebrews were removed from those absolutes. In their worry-ness and weariness the Hebrews doubted that the God who through Moses delivered them through the water might bring water to quench their thirst. They were so downcast they thought about returning to just survive in Egypt when God wanted them – and wants for us – to thrive.
Worrying gets in the way of thriving. Worrying thwarts thriving from the start. I worry because I like to be in control. I am most comfortable when I know what will happen, how I will feel while it is happening, and what the consequences will be after it happens. I do not like the feeling of my stomach in my throat or my stomach diving down towards my knees.
When walking through the wildernesses of my life I have to remember that I am not a trailblazer and I am not a lone ranger. I am not wholly and solely responsible for my path and how I will be sustained along that path. I am following after God – God blazes the trail. And I am travelling with company – much like our ancestors in the Sinai region. We are all making our way together.
The wilderness is a place full of potential. You have left what was and anticipate what will be. To simply be in that space is powerful. It is a struggle to be, but that is when I need to remember that I am not God. I am not blazing the trail. I am a creation. I am a beloved child of God. And in my creation God made a commitment to provide for me through God’s creation, through utilizing my God-given gifts and graces, and through my relationships with others. When I worry I feel that I create negativity in my life or that I am bracing myself for a negative impact that may never come. When I focus on the potential of the wilderness, the space that God is bringing me through, yes there are points of shadow and I might trip on a branch, but light is also breaking through the branches, I can hear a river running by, I can see an environment teeming with life, and I can notice that the trees are becoming less dense.
The Exodus did not end when God’s people crossed the Egypt Region Line. Our Exodus is a continuing saga; it continues every time God brings us through whatever it is we are facing. We do not need to worry. Sarah – I do not need to worry. God will provide. God does provide.
Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Amen.”*
*”The Serenity Prayer,” The United Methodist Hymnal 459.