Just add water

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
September 28, 2014
“Just add water”

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

Most of us know how important water is to sustain life. We know it’s important for the animals in the field, the crops and for us as well. It provides nourishment and life. The human body is mostly water. We can survive without food for 40 days or more, but we can’t go long without water.

The people had been fed and they had been traveling through the wilderness, as God had commanded. But they still complained incessantly, this time about water. This was no small problem. There were a lot of people with flocks and herds, and the water supplies in the Sinai were very limited.

“Give us something to drink,” the people said. Their complaint was about water, but it was also about Moses being incompetent. Why did he get them out there where he couldn’t take care of them?

Actually, he probably could. Moses was an old desert hand and knew how to find water in the rocks. Water moves along the surface of impermeable layers. When it reaches an outcropping, as in the side of a canyon, it drips out. Minerals from the water are deposited and eventually seal up the hole from which the water drips. But you can always see where the hole was, and a sharp blow from a staff will open the hole again and bring water. In fact, Moses used exactly these skills near the end of their journey

Numbers 20:2-13: “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’

So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence just as he commanded him.  He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’

These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he was proved holy among them.”

When we read this passage and we hear God saying Moses isn’t going into the Promised Land, it seems excessive.  Why was he punished so harshly?  What is the big deal whether he struck the rock or spoke to it? It was a big deal because Moses took matters into his own hands, he used his skills.  He had been in the wilderness for a while; he was comfortable with being the leader. He could handle this. He didn’t need God’s advice. He could do it his way.

But that was much later…Today Moses isn’t comfortable being the leader. Today he is frustrated; this was not first, nor would it be his last time.  Moses had dealt with Pharaoh time and time again, he had made it through the Red Sea and he was sure the difficulties were behind him; but now he had to deal with the commotion over food and water. So, he did a little complaining of his own to God: “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me.”  His immediate concern was not for water for the people but for his own safety.

Most of us can understand his concern. Safety is a basic human need. I know I have done my share of complaining to God when I have felt my personal safety or job security was at risk.   What about you? The good news is God knows our need for safety.  It is already a part of the plan. That’s why God ignored Moses’ concern for safety and addressed the water problem.

But the story isn’t really about water. The ending of the story says the encounter had been about lack of faith. They even named the places “Test” and “Quarrel,” because the people tested Moses and God. The story is a critique on those who judge God on the basis of how well God satisfies their wants.

But before we judgmentally wave our finger at the Israelites, let’s point it back at ourselves and evaluate Do our prayers consist mostly of asking for things? Do we lose heart when these are not answered as we want? If we are honest most of us will answer yes.

We live in an instant society.  Making a cake from scratch is for special occasions; for the everyday you can get a mix and just add water.

Most of us no longer put the coffee pot on the stove and wait for it to percolate… The Keurig enables us to just add water..push a button and within less than a moment we have a fresh brewed cup of coffee…and it  can be tailored to your individual taste… one  person can enjoy hazelnut…another French vanilla, still another mocha.

Without realizing it, the “just add water” concept has affected how we view God. That’s why we whine and complain…why we become fearful about what is going to happen to us. We expect things to happen our way, on our timetable.

Isaiah 55:8-9, NRSV “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We need to be open to the way God wants to do things.

When the American West was opened up, many a traveler passed over the rich earth that lay on top of the territory of Nebraska. The dirt is rich, black dirt, but they could see no water anywhere. They thought this land would be good for nothing. One writer even called it, “The Great America Desert.” Some even died while on their journey, for lack of refreshment.  Nebraska is now serious about farming. It has been called a bread basket for our nation. More wheat and more corn are grown there than almost any other state in the union. What happened? What made the difference that those early travelers couldn’t see. They failed to realize that under the state of Nebraska is an underground lake, an aquifer that lies under 2/3’s the state of Nebraska. Someone got the bright idea to dig down and found all the water they needed to turn the “Great American Desert” into the bread basket of America.

We need to remember no matter what situation we are facing- no matter how challenging it seems – the stream of God’s grace is flowing through us.

We just need to spiritually dig down. If we can remember that, it will change the way we pray. We will begin to trust God. We will learn to pray expectantly for what God wants to do.  We’ll discover it is so much better than anything we could have ever imagined.

It is important for each of us to do just that. After all, we are in this together.