March 19, 2017 | Third Sunday in Lent
Exodus 17:1-7 | Psalm 95| Romans 5:1-11 | John 4:5-42
Associate Professor of Evangelism, Mission, and Methodist Studies
After the tenth plague Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea into the desert. Along the way the people became thirsty and began to cry out to Moses saying, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”
The Christian walk is not an easy one. Sometimes people have the false impression that becoming a Christian will solve all their problems. Actually, it is the other way around. Sometimes it seems easier to stay in Egypt where there is food and water. It is familiar. But God calls us to be liberated from bondage and struggle for the promised land. Yes, it is unfamiliar and we don’t know what lies ahead, but God accompanies us along the way.
A few years ago I had the privilege of going on a six-day tour of the Sinai Desert. It wasn’t exactly a leisure trip. We went on an old green truck with no sides. The sleeping quarters were a straw mat in the open desert. We cooked our own meals and did our own dishes on a rotating schedule. The bathroom facilities consisted of … well, you get the picture. One of the stops on the tour was Mount Horeb where Moses is believed to have tapped the rock. The whole time I was in the desert I couldn’t get over the vastness of the place. One afternoon our guide parked the truck in the middle of a valley and invited us to get out and explore. She gave us three hours to just wander. I climbed up a nearby mountain and looked down on the truck in the middle of the valley. It looked like a matchbox car—so small and insignificant in the vast open desert. I felt even smaller. Up on that mountain I found a tiny little flower. How a flower could survive in an arid and rugged desert I don’t know. But I took it as a sign from God than in the midst of our walk, even when we feel alone, God is there with us giving us hope and encouragement to not give up. Even when it seems tempting to remain comfortable, God calls us toward the liberation of the promised land—and is with us along the way providing water (or a flower).
Dear God, in the midst of the wilderness and the struggles thank you for the little signs of your presence among us. Amen.
Describe a time when you wandered or felt lost—literally or figuratively. Were you alone or in a group? What about it was unfamiliar? Did you feel God was accompanying you and if so, at what point did you feel that way? To what land of liberation is God calling you at this time?