Monday, February 25, 2008

Where do you quarrel with God?

     He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?" -- Exodus 17:7. What makes the naming more depressing is the context in which it comes. Think of this: God has sent the ten curses upon Egypt; Pharoah and all of Egypt have thrown the Israelites out; Egypt has given Israel its treasure to ensure that Israel will leave; the cloud has protected and lighted the way for Israel; the Red Sea has been parted; the superpower of the day, Egypt, has been defeated; manna has been provided; quail has been rained down upon them -- and still, Israel complains and doubts! "Is the Lord among us or not?" Can you imagine ever thinking, let alone saying aloud, such a thing?

     The truth is, we are no better than the people of Israel in the story. We live on this side of work and person of Jesus Christ. Jesus has come, He has taughted and ministered, He has been crucified, He has died, He has risen, and He has ascended. What all of Israel ultimately longed to see, our ancestors have witnessed! Salvation has finally come to God's people. Yet how often do we find ourselves complaining and testing God? How often do we create our own Meribah's and Massah's?

     I have mentioned several times during this season of Lent that I think we should all strive to be a bit more introspective. Often, I am calling people to live out their faith in thanksgiving of the gift first offered them, but during Lent, I have efforted to ask questions which cause people to look inward and examine their own faith lives. Where in your life do you question His presence? What part of your life have you refused to surrender to His lordship? Finances? -- we often refuse to give what He has placed on our hearts because "we will not have enough to (fill in the blank). How about your relationships? --we often try not to be too Christian around our friends, co-workers, or even our families because we do not want them to think of us as "Bible-thumpers" or "religious wacko's." How about in our testimonies? -- often we do not wish to speak into situations for fear of "saying the wrong thing" or "giving the wrong impression."

     Over and over again, we question among ourselves whether the Lord is among us or not? Over and over again, we do the very things for which we condemn Israel. The good news is, of course, that He went willingly to that cross knowing our fears, knowing our failures. Yet still, He went! And His resurrection and ascension are a reminder to each of us that all things are now under His authority. If He can conquer death on our behalf, can He not give us the words to speak to a stranger, co-worker, or loved one? If He gave us life, do you really not think that He can give us more of whatever it is He asks each of us, be it finances, time, ability or whatever He knows we lack? If He loved you and me so much that He was willing to die for each of us, despite knowing our failure, do you really not think that close friends and families and those whom we love dearly should be off limits as far as talking about Him? Where do you quarrel and wonder if He is present? Where are your Massah's and Meribah's? Brothers and sisters, He has promised that He is a God near at hand. The Easter feast reminds us of His ability to keep those promises. The very places where you are certain He is absent may just be the very places in Your life where He is the most present and the places where He may work the greatest redemptions. He longed to care for Israel; He longs to care for each one of us! Instead of fighting with Him, why not work with Him, instead?


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