Exod. 15:22-16:10: The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’
Well, that’s one way of looking at life – through the ‘if only’ lens. And at this moment in history and God’s time, it is just how the freed slaves of Israel were looking at things – here on the other side of the body of water called the Red Sea, now in the desert lands of Elim, moving slowly through a strange land.
And it seems they are not happy with their lot – a bit more than grumpy, actually, at the turn of events – all the expectations of what freedom would bring are not being realized. They’re tired. They’re hungry, and they greet the days with an anxious heart, a fretful petition, If only we were back home. It may not have been an easy life, but at least it was known, and we had food on the table, and work to do. And, well, it was pretty secure, too, and though we were pretty miserable in many ways, we were sure not to have died of hunger, we had a roof over our heads, and provision…if only. If only we had stayed put…if only…
The reading gave me pause, today. I waken of late with a long and ever expanding list of ‘if onlys’ running through my head. It begins as I lay down to sleep and try as I might to pray myself into slumber, the list must trump the prayer, because I wake with it before me.
So, I pray…again. I turn to God’s word – to the readings for the day and though I bring to my morning prayers a bit of anxiousness and fret not unlike the Israelites, I know the Lord is pleased I’ve come to Him,
“Bring me your complaints. Loved one – draw near.”
I’m not complaining, Lord, God. I’m not blaming either. I’m just saying. Really? Why am I at another crossroads? If only I hadn’t followed you out of the known into the unknown, then…hmmm…I don’t think I’d be where I am…hmm…if only…. This is so, so hard! I am so over this, Lord, God. I trust you. You know this. But really?
And as I pray, a ‘peace that passes understanding’ begins to settle me down, give me breath, give me pause. He leans in as I draw near,
“I lead you here by your faith in me and mine in you for nothing more than the possibility of loving me, your Lord God, more deeply than you even knew possible. For the possibilities, loved one, of life lived in truth, in love, in Christ.”
Ok. Right. I remember. It’s not about me. Got it. Good answer, Lord, God. Onward.
Lectionary: AM Psalm 119:1-24; PM Psalm 12, 13, 14
Exod. 15:22-16:10; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; John 15:1-11