Reading: Exodus 17:3-7
Verse 6: “I will stand there before you… Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
Continuing in Exodus 17 today, the people are thirsty – parched. They grumble at Moses who grumbles to God. At this point, God demonstrates patience, love, and mercy. I imagine God first drawing a deep breath and then counting to 10. As God exhales slowly, I imagine God looking down in love upon this quarrelsome, doubting lot. As God looks upon these children panicking in the desert, God’s heart is once again moved to mercy. We don’t have to imagine this part. In verses 6 God tells Moses, “I will stand there before you… Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” God goes before Moses, leading the way to water, to life, to joy.
First, a lesson from Moses: lead using the example you want others to follow. After receiving the peoples’ complaint, Moses should’ve gone to God in prayer. Moses should’ve first sought God’s direction, strength, guidance – and patience, love, and mercy. This is how God led. That’s our second lesson, this one from God. When seeking to help or care for someone in distress, practice patience, love, and mercy. See the person as they are, try to understand where they are, feel what it is like to be in their shoes. Then allow first love and then mercy to guide your efforts and your response.
We are now in our own season in the wilderness. We are journeying towards the cross during Lent. This season of introspection invites us to look within, to honestly see ourselves as we are. Maybe we’ll find some grumbling and a bit of quarreling. Maybe we’ll find anger or lust or pride or doubt or something else that needs to go. As we seek to root out these sinful behaviors as we prepare ourselves to stand at the foot of the cross in the presence of the one who surrendered all for us, may we too practice patience, love, and mercy with ourselves. The roots of our sin are deep and the journey is long and difficult. May God be with us.
Prayer: Lord God, today I ask that you pour out your patience, love, and mercy. Fill me with these so that I too can be generous with them – both with myself and with others. Lead me to look deeply within this day; guide me to that which I need to surrender to your will and way. Amen.