Is God Here?

Can you think of a time in your life when things were so chaotic that you wondered “Is God here?“ A death, divorce, terminal diagnosis, a national event like 9/11, or anything currently happening in America might cause you to ask such a thing. Anytime we sustain a shock to our system we are tempted to question God’s presence and activity.

Such was the case with the struggling Israelites as they made their way across the desert. Tired, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, they quickly forgot how God had just delivered them from certain death in Egypt. They voice their fear that they might be looking at certain death in the wilderness:

Exodus 17 (The Message)

 1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”

But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”

When they looked at their immediate circumstances, it indeed seemed as though God was absent. Their thirst and exhaustion were the only things they could see. Any hope for the future based on the deliverance in their past was wiped from their minds. Desperation set in.

Have you ever been in that kind of wilderness where all you could see was pain and despair and you forgot how God had loved you through your wilderness wanderings in times past? It is easy to forget.

Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”

5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”

You see, the people hadn’t arrived at their final destination yet. They needed to keep moving forward. They needed to be obedient to God’s call to become his people and follow his way. They needed to have a smidge more faith. God was trying to lead them out of their thirst and into a land flowing with milk and honey…they just needed to keep moving forward.

6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”

Where is God telling you right now to just keep moving forward? What circumstance has you so momentarily paralyzed that you have forgotten his goodness to you in the past?

God goes before you. If you look up with the eyes of faith, you are sure to spot him there on the rock where the waters of peace, hope, justice, and consolation await. Is God here with you? You betcha.

And the People Will Drink by Michelle Robertson

The Testing Place

Have you ever been severely tested by your child? Have you had one of those days/weeks/months (years??) where your beloved kid is so totally WORKING YOUR LAST NERVE that you wonder why you even had kids in the first place? We’ve all been there, and we’re certainly there now that the entire country has become homeschool families overnight with the school closures.

We are one day into this thing and parents are realizing the enormous challenge of what lies ahead. A celebrity posted yesterday on Facebook that she had been homeschooling her two elementary-age kids for an hour and 11 minutes, and she proposed that all teachers get a million dollar raise when schools open again.

Parents are understanding the struggle in a new way today. A child’s normal development includes defiance stages that they eventually outgrow. But we aren’t equipped to deal with it 24/7. We just have to pray that we survive. We’ll survive the pandemic…pray we survive our kids!

So imagine being in the presence of adults who acted like toddlers and teenagers for 40 years as you led them through the wilderness into a land God had prepared and promised for you. I don’t believe there is anything in scripture that mentions whether or not Moses was bald, but I would bet my life that he was. Surely he tore his hair out with all the pestering!

Exodus 17 (The Message)

 1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”

But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”

I can hear our teenagers saying, “Why do you DRAG me to church every Sunday? Church is so boring. I don’t get anything out of it.” Unfortunately, parents who give into this end up with young adults who’ve been taught that it’s OK to stop going to church if it isn’t up to their liking. Don’t make that mistake. We drag them to church because God deserves their presence, sullen or not. And making church attendance a non-negotiation reinforces the priority we put on worship as a family. Would you let your kid skip their school lessons because they’re “boring?” Probably not…

Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”

5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”

6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”

Kids will test you like it’s their JOB, just as the Israelites tested Moses and God. Even after their miraculous delivery from slavery and hardship in Egypt, they still complained.

But Moses kept his head, knowing God would provide. When we test God to see if he is with us, the answer is always yes. Water flows from his grace and mercy, and we are allowed to drink freely of its effervescence. The people of God never go thirsty.

So the next time you are tested, remember Moses. Keep your hair on and pray. Stand your ground on the important things and look to God to refresh you in the wilderness of schooling and raising children. You are not alone! God indeed is with us. Thanks be to God.

God’s People Never Go Thirsty Photo by Greg Whittle