Fresh out of their slavery in Egypt, the Israelites had just seen God part the Red Sea to lead them to freedom. Little did they know that the next part of their journey would include three days traveling through the desert without a single drop of water. I can recall summer days where I’ve been working outdoors and felt anxious to quench my thirst. But, after three days of excruciating dryness one might be led to desperation. Perhaps you are parched from a difficult week.
Settle Yourself: Release
Esther de Waal, in her book, A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton, shares these thoughts about quieting ourselves for time with God:
You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free,
losing all the fine stings and tethers that bind you,
to the presence of others. […]
Let there be a place somewhere in which you can breathe naturally, quietly,
and not to take your breath in continuous gasps.
A place where your mind can be idle and forget its concerns
descend in silence,
and worship the Father in secret.
Listen: Rest in the Word
Read this passage slowly a few times. If you can, read it out loud at least once.
Exodus 15:22-27 The Message
Moses led Israel from the Red Sea on to the Wilderness of Shur. They traveled for three days through the wilderness without finding any water. They got to Marah, but they couldn’t drink the water at Marah; it was bitter. That’s why they called the place Marah (Bitter). And the people complained to Moses, “So what are we supposed to drink?”
So Moses cried out in prayer to God. God pointed him to a stick of wood. Moses threw it into the water and the water turned sweet. That’s the place where God set up rules and procedures; that’s where he started testing them.
God said, “If you listen, listen obediently to how God tells you to live in his presence, obeying his commandments and keeping all his laws, then I won’t strike you with all the diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians; I am God your healer.”
They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. They set up camp there by the water.
Reflect: Feast on the Word
We all have seasons of our lives when we are in the desert and seasons when we camp by the water with lushness around us. In which season do you find yourself? Do you trust God in the dry places? Is there bitterness you need to give to the Lord so you can drink the sweet water?
The sweet water is what you have to offer me, but I often chose to drink what is bitter or to go without. Then, I grumble to you and moan. I lay out my case that you have not led me in the way that I want to go. Lord, have mercy. Please absorb my bitterness into yourself.
I long to follow your decrees and laws. You tell me to listen carefully. Please open my ears and give me an obedient heart. Then, I open my hands to receive your healing touch.
Now, dear Father, give me rest by your sweet springs and refreshing palm trees. Amen.