Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Glimpse of God

Exodus 33:12-23

Last week I spoke with how God wants to be in relationship with us. That there is open dialogue, give and take, forgiveness and love. That Moses even changes God’s mind. One of the mistakes that we might make after hearing that sermon is to think then that God is just like us as humans. That there is nothing particularly awe-inspiring about God.

Today’s passage in Exodus remedies that situation. Moses continues to be in relationship in God – they continue to be in dialogue, the give and take is still there, as are the forgiveness and love; but it is clear that this is by no means a relationship of two equals. Moses is still very much human, and God is still very much a power beyond understanding.

You see, Moses craves to see God. In other words he wants to know God more fully and more personally. He wants God to reveal all that God is, but God knows that Moses can’t handle that. For him to experience God that completely would destroy him. So God consents to let Moses catch a glimpse of him as he goes by.

Many of us also crave what Moses craves – we want to see God more fully. We want to experience God’s presence.

In an article Making It Personal Rabbi Adam Morris captures this really well! “The “evidence” of divinity may be all around us, but we human beings are wired to want to know God “personally.” We want God to speak to us as we speak to one another. We want to calculate God’s effect in our world the way we calculate the balance of our bank accounts. We want to be able to invoke God’s presence in the same manner that we can access the piece of news, information, podcast, at a moment’s notice. The story of Moses seeking to see God’s glory (Exodus 33) is part of the Jewish sacred story because it captures the inherent challenge in establishing a personal relationship with God.”[1]

What it shows us is that although we desire to see God, God is bigger than we can handle. We want to know God like we know another person, but that simply is not possible. God is not another person, God is the creator of all that is. That kind of power is truly beyond our comprehension. And yet even though God is so powerful, even though God is so far beyond us, God still wants to be close to us, to know us, and for us to know God. It is a great dilemma of faith – how can we be close to one so beyond us?

There are a couple of theological words that can be helpful for us in this: immanence and transcendence. Immanence is the idea that God is immanent –

the official definition is that the Divine presence permeates the material world, that God is here, that God is within us, close to us, in fact, that God is always with us. It is the idea that there are many ways that God is like us. God is like a father, God is like a friend, God is like a neighbor, a counselor, a mother holding us when we are afraid. We need to know the immanence of God. That’s what Moses is asking for here today. “Let me see your glorious presence.”

But God’s answer is that although God is willing to be there, God is also Transcendent. The official definition is that there are aspects of the Divine that are beyond the material universe,

beyond physical laws, separate from our physical universe. Transcendence is the idea that God is beyond us, is greater than us. It is a reminder that God is unlike us, not only outside of our experience, but outside of the entire universe’s experience. There is nothing in nature that is quite like God.

So although Moses wants to see God. That simply isn’t completely possible. Not only can we not handle seeing God, the universe itself cannot contain God. I know that this is very philosophical. But it is vital for us to understand, even if we don’t completely get it, that God is like us, within us, and close to us in some ways. But at the same time God is far beyond anything we can understand, unlike anything we have ever experienced, mysterious and awesome.

Perhaps it is like our experience of the sun. We know and experience the sun through the light and the heat that it gives us. We know that it is absolutely vital to our lives and everything depends upon it.

We sometimes crave sitting in its light, absorbing its warmth, feeling it upon our skin. We even want to know more about it, and are curious when things like eclipses take place. Yet, despite our desire to look directly at it, we cannot without harming our eyes. Because as much as we know that the sun is part of all that happens in our world, we also know that we could not stand next to it without being consumed in its fire. It is much more than a heat lamp.

Of course, God is not the sun. My comparison is just a weak attempt to explain how something can be close to us, part of us, and yet beyond us at the same time. So that is the dilemma of faith. How can we get closer to the one who made us? How can we see God more clearly and completely?

St. Anselm in his great treatise on God, in the very first chapter writes this: “Be it mine to look up to your light, even from afar, even from the depths. Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me, when I seek you, for I cannot seek you, except you teach me, nor find you, except you reveal yourself. Let me seek you in longing, let me long for you in seeking; let me find you in love, and love you in finding. Lord, I acknowledge and I thank you that you have created me in this your image, in order that I may be mindful of you, may conceive of you, and love you; but that image has been so consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrongdoing, that it cannot achieve that for which it was made, except you renew it, and create it anew. I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my heart believes and loves.”[2]

Anselm captures strongly the difficulty of wanting to see God, and yet knowing that as humans, partly because we are sinful, partly because we simply are not wise enough to handle it, we are limited in our ability to see God. We are in the image of God, but we are not God. He also reminds us that, although we cannot find God, although we cannot see God, God can find us, teach us, God can reveal Godself to us.

So here is the amazing thing that happens in this scripture. Although God is so beyond us, God wants to grant Moses his wish. God wants to satisfy his desire to see God’s glorious presence. In fact, God wants all of us to be able to encounter God and draw close to God. This is part of the grace of God.

This song captured that well for me. You can sing along if you like, or just read and meditate on the words and pictures.

[video Who Am I – Casting Crowns]

And so God often grants us fleeting glimpses of Godself. We may catch a glimpse of God in nature, or in the compassionate actions of another person, in a spiritual moment while we are in prayer, or in a dream while we are asleep. Even Jesus is just a glimpse of God, the embodiment of God in a human form, as much as God can be contained by such.

Each of these glimpses is meant to help satisfy what we crave, that meeting with God, while also reminding us that God is far beyond us and bigger than we can ever capture with our smart-phone camera.

What this means in our personal spiritual lives is that God is willing to bless us with glimpses of God. But it also means that those glimpses may never quite satisfy us. There will always be mystery in God. It means that while we want a personal relationship with God, and God in some ways grants it, that relationship is one between the Creator of all that is, and one of the creations. It is not a relationship of equals, but despite that, it is a relationship of love. Love that wants dialogue, give and take, obedience and forgiveness. And that is complex, hard to explain, and yet wonderful to be part of every day!

As Rabbi Adam Morris says, “The Divine Being, regardless of its power and presence in your personal world, is still as mysterious and elusive as the Israelites found it.” And quite honestly, that is exactly what I would expect from God: to be like me, and yet to be beyond me, and that makes me love and awe God even more.

[1] Seasons of the Spirit, p. 121.
[2] Works of St. Anselm, tr. by Sidney Norton Deane, [1903], at sacred-texts.com, chapter 1

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sermon: Good Relationship

Exodus 32:1-14

Relationship. According to the dictionary: The word means the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected. The way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward each other. Relationship can be a good way of interacting, it can be a bad way of interacting. But let’s just focus on the good relationships for a moment. If I were to ask you what the elements of a good relationship are? What makes it so that two people can live together well, work together well? [open it up]

In today’s passage there are all sorts of relationships. There are good ones, there are not so good ones. First let me read it, and listen for the relationships. This is Exodus 32:1-14

The people saw that Moses was taking a long time to come down from the mountain. They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come on! Make us gods who can lead us. As for this man Moses who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t have a clue what has happened to him.”

Aaron said to them, “All right, take out the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took out the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. He collected them and tied them up in a cloth. Then he made a metal image of a bull calf, and the people declared, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf. Then Aaron announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” They got up early the next day and offered up entirely burned offerings and brought well-being sacrifices. The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to celebrate.

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything! They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.”

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, “Lord, why does your fury burn against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and amazing force? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had an evil plan to take the people out and kill them in the mountains and so wipe them off the earth’? Calm down your fierce anger. Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, whom you yourself promised, ‘I’ll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky. And I’ve promised to give your descendants this whole land to possess for all time.’” Then the Lord changed his mind about the terrible things he said he would do to his people.

Listening for the relationship is a different way of listening to this passage isn’t it. There are four basic characters. Moses, the people of Israel, Aaron and God. Tim Scorer, a spiritual director, educator and author takes time to talk about the human characters of the story, and how and when we might see ourselves like them.

For example, we might feel like Moses when we have to entrust our responsibilities to someone else when we go away.

We might feel like Moses when we have to clean up the mess that happens when we are gone. Or when we have to intervene with authorities on behalf of those we love, as Moses intervenes for the people with God. We might understand how hard it can be to argue with one who is in authority over us. Yet Moses also represents people who have a lively relationship with God and receive deep promises from God.

Whereas the people of Israel represent us at very different times in life than Moses does.

We empathize with them when we become restless in the absence of our leader, when we feel an absence of connection with God and want something more, or perhaps when we want to be able to use our money to influence our religious community and perhaps even shape the practices of our faith.

And we will definitely understand what Aaron is going through when

we have been through a time when something disastrous has happened on our watch, when we are waiting for our boss to return or for someone else to come and fix it. We might even relate to him as one who refuses to take a stand even when we know that things are going wrong.[1]

Those are the human characters in the passage. Now, you may relate to one or another of these people more than others. You might feel like the Israelites and their relationship with God – impatient and wondering what will happen next. You might feel like Aaron, who should have taken a stand, ended up doing the wrong thing, and now probably feels pretty foolish as he looks at God. Or you may feel like Moses and have a strong relationship with God even though those around you are making a huge mess of it all. What makes the story interesting and in fact what makes it applicable to our lives are the ways these characters interact. The relationships between them.

And you could go lots of directions analyzing that, but let’s focus on how God has a strong relationship with Moses, because I hope that all of us want a stronger relationship with God. I hope it is a pretty universal desire among us here.

The situation reaches its critical moment, when God sees what the people are doing. God is not happy that the people have forgotten about God and built an idol after all that God has done for them. God is frustrated and hurt. And here is what is amazing, God tells Moses that. “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. Now leave me alone!” It takes a pretty good relationship for someone to come to you and say to you, I’m really mad at that other person.

But it goes even further, because even though God says, “Now leave me alone.” -- Moses argues back with God, and he says, “Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people.” God actually is open to input from Moses on how to handle the situation. This idea may leave us confused – because we expect God to have all the answers, we expect God to be perfect and know it all. What it suggests to us is that God is more about relationship than about setting our destinies in stone, and plotting out our lives ahead of time. Perhaps what makes God perfect is God’s ability to work with us in relationship.

In other words, God is less like a clock-maker who made a perfect machine and started the universe in motion, and more like the perfect coach who motivates the team throughout the game. And as a perfect coach, God actually listens when the players want to have input into the game-plan, if the ideas are good. It is a much more relational view of God. It certainly fits with our ideas that God loves and forgives – even in the midst of relationship problems – as God does with the Israelites here, and as God does with us throughout our lives.

What this passage shows us about God is that God is deeply committed to being in relationship with Moses. But it also suggests that when we say that God wants to be in relationship with us as human beings, when we say that God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us as individuals, that God may want to be able to interact with us much as God did with Moses. In other words, God wants to be able to tell us when we have done things that anger or frustrate God. God wants us to be free to share when we are becoming impatient, and are on the verge of giving up and looking for something else because God has taken too long. God is open to our input, and we can argue with God about how things should be done.

All of this is part of our prayer life. Of talking with God and listening to God.

And of course, in those moments God also reminds us that God loves and forgives us. All of these things are part of a good relationship with God, even as they are part of a good relationship with others. It is a willingness to stay in relationship even during the tough times.

The good news is that God wants relationship with us. Relationship in its best form. Where we are able to communicate openly and clearly, where give and take is expected, and where love and forgiveness are the foundation.

[1] Seasons of the Spirit, Finding Meaning in Exodus, Tim Scorer

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sermon: So Many Laws

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

For the past month we have been reading about the Israelites and their escape from Egypt. We have heard about how God has saved them through miracle and miracle. All that is wonderful. But after wandering in the desert for a while, without any government, without any laws – the people need guidance. They are no longer under Egyptian law. So at some point they need to establish rules for their new community. How are they to treat each other? What things are off limits?

It is a situation very similar to what happened on Boxing Day, December 26, 1989. Romania was in turmoil. The previous day, President Nicolae Ceausescu, unable to quell the tide of dissent in Bucharest, had been tried and executed. Now no one was in charge. Western reporters flooded into the country from the south, searching for someone who could speak English. Finally they found someone, and in one sentence she summed up not only Romania's predicament, but the human condition: "We have freedom," she said, "but we don't know what to do with it."[1] That’s where the Israelites were – they now had freedom, but they didn’t know what to do with it. What is the best way to live?

Today’s reading begins a section of the Bible where law and rules become an important part of the story. Mixed in with the stories of Moses and the people will be long sections on how the temple is to be organized, how people are to treat strangers, what to do if a person steals from another person; and so on.

Believe it or not, up until this point, God has never really laid all of that out. The people have lived and acted pretty much without that kind of guidance. But this moment in time changes that.

This new guidance from God begins with one of the hallmarks in the history of religious law. We call it the 10 commandments. Scholars looking at the original form of this passage and reading it in the Hebrew, suggest that the commandments listed here, may actually have first been simply 10 single words. Murder. Idolatry. Adultery. And so. They were a shorthand for a rule of life to guide the Israelite people.[2] Remember these 10 words, one for each finger, and then obey them.

So obviously these were critical for the Israelite people. They needed laws for their new community that was free from Egypt and united under their service of God – but what do these 10 commandments do for us? Because we do not live in a society without laws. In fact, in our country, our state and our community, we have thousands of laws. Way more than fit in the bible. There are laws about murder, building codes, medical marijuana, how fast you can drive, where to ride your bicycle, and what you can put in your garbage cans. In fact it is estimated there are 35 million laws on the books in the United States alone.

So we have no shortage of laws – do we still need the 10 commandments? That may sound like a joke, but honestly, do we? What role do these commandments play in our lives? Several of them are covered by a whole host of laws on the books in the United States, so do we need them?

Actually a Christian Sunday School teacher wrote Rabbi Adam Morris’ a question much like this. That may sound strange, but Rabbi Morris works with a Christian Sunday School curriculum company and helps to answer questions people have about the Hebrew Scriptures which we sometimes call the Old Testament. Here is the question:

“Dear Rabbi, I teach Sunday school to young people. This month we are doing a bulletin board on the ten commandments. Could you tell me if there is a more modern way to interpret them for youth?”

Rabbi Morris answers: “You ask a great question that cuts to the heart of the matter as to why we teach Scripture – or as we Jews may call it, text. We teach it because on some level we believe in our heart of hearts how relevant it is – no matter the anachronistic language or even uncomfortable story details (Leviticus and leprosy come to mind!). We believe that there is relevance to us today. Even though the language of the commandments can be somewhat distant, at the core of each is a truth that each of us knows and faces. I think that the key to interpreting them today is hooking into that truth and staying positive and appropriate.”

“Jews order the ten commandments a bit differently than in the Christian tradition, but I’ll share our way of counting.”

He then deals with the commandments one by one.

“I am the Lord your God can be re-told as: Knowing who is the one with the power.”

“Wrongful use of God’s name can be re-told as: Being aware of the language we use (cursing, blessing, etc.).”

“Idol Worship -- Following after the god of stuff (watches, clothes, phones, etc.).”

“Shabbat/Sabbath day --Taking care of ourselves/souls.”

“Parents -- (Too much relevancy here!).”

Let me pause for a second here so that those of you who are taking notes can catch up, and so the rest of you can digest those first five commandments. [pause – after a few moments continue]

Ready to go on? Okay, so for the next one we could say that the reminder about the evil of Murder is that God is “All about life.”

“Stealing -- Acting on jealousy and feeling left out (see #10).”

“Adultery -- Focus on the positive – the need for loving relationships.”

“Bearing false witness -- Truth – how much they value it from others.”

“Coveting -- Not feeling good about themselves so wanting what everyone else has.”[3]

What Rabbi Morris encourages us to do as we look at the commandments, is to look for the deeper truth in them of what God expects us to value most. These should continue to influence the way we live our daily lives. They act as guiding principles for what is most important, and what brings life.

Suddenly the things that are most important are: the God who made us, the relationships with family, the relationships of marriage, the relationships in community. We are reminded to take care of ourselves, to be careful what we say, to value the lives of others. We are reminded that dishonesty and jealousy are harmful to ourselves and to others. We are told that stuff is less important and doesn’t need to be the object of our desire, and reminded that God more important than we often give God credit for.

If we were to truly live these 10 laws out, our lives would be greatly changed. Can you imagine no jealousy, no chasing after material things, no shooters from the 32nd floor of a hotel, no threat of war with North Korea. And people would actually take care of their souls so that they felt that deep connection with God that they need to be truly fulfilled. These 10 laws could change everything for us. As Psalm 19 says, “All of these are righteous, they are sweeter than honey—even dripping off the honeycomb! No doubt about it, your servant is enlightened by them; there is great reward in keeping them.”

So yes, there is a reason for us to keep reading and learning the 10 commandments – even if the language is old, and at first glance they don’t relate to our day to day modern life. The reality is they serve as a baseline reminder that there are deeper values to life.

The founder of United Methodist, John Wesley said, “The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and service of the temple, our Lord indeed did come to destroy, to dissolve, and utterly abolish.  . .. all the Apostles, elders, and brethren, being assembled with one accord, (Acts 15:22) declared, that to command them to keep this law, was to "subvert their souls;" and that "it seemed good to the Holy Ghost" and to them, to lay no such burden upon them. (Acts 15:28) This "hand-writing of ordinances" our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to His cross.”

“But the moral law, contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken, which stands fast as the faithful witness in heaven.”

They remind us in 10 short statements, perhaps even in 10 words, that God cares about our religious lives, which is obvious, but God also cares about the quality of our lives and that means God gives us instructions about how we treat each other, and even what we desire most.

They tell us how to use the freedom we have, given to us by God as we make choices each day, and they guide us to the best results. So take some time and meditate upon these, and let them help you prioritize how you live out each day. After all, if you can work to obey 35 million laws for our country, you can certainly work on these 10 for yourself.

[1] David F. Wells, "God Spoke These Words," The ChristianCentury, 3/15/00, p. 301.
[2] Seasons of the SPirit
[3] Seasons of the Spirit

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sermon: Is God With Us?

Exodus 17:1-7

When you read today’s passage from Exodus, you might be tempted to get the wrong point. It would be easy to look at the people and their arguments in the passage from Exodus and think that the most important part of the passage is about complaining. Moses led the people out of Egypt and ever since they have been uphappy. But in today’s passage the stress hits a new height. The people are now, not just complaining, but now they are arguing with Moses.

So we could think that the passage is about helping people to learn better ways of bringing their problems to light. But that isn’t the point. The real function of the passage is in the very last line – “Is the Lord really with us or not?” That’s the crux of the issue. That’s why the people are afraid. That’s why they are panicked and concerned.

When we read the story, we think, “How can they not know”. Obviously, God has been with the Israelites from before they stepped out of Egypt. God saw their plight and has walked with them all along the way. God brought plagues to change Pharaoh’s heart, God parted the seas, God provided food in the form of Manna so that they would not be hungry. From our perspective as we read about miracle after miracle, it is obvious that God is with them. But to the Israelites, who day by day are walking through the desert, and who day after day are struggling to live, it is easy to keep forgetting the past, because they are lost in the worries of today, so they lose trust, and they are afraid, and they wonder “Is God with us?”

For those of us today, who are reading the story; rather than be judgmental of the Israelites, we should admit that ultimately we have the same question, that critical question at the end of the passage: “Is the Lord really with us or not?”

Often our worries both for the church and ourselves, is that very same question. As we go through life we wonder, “Is God there, or not? Is God real?” This is especially on our minds when things are not going well.

And this is natural. It is natural to wonder, even to doubt God’s love, God’s care, and even if God exists, when the circumstances of life are not going well. When you are in a hospital bed facing life or death, when you are going through a horrendous divorce, when you are watching your child ruin their life – these questions can pour forth from us. And the longer the situation lasts, the more emotional we can become. What starts as a nagging thought in the back of our mind, suddenly becomes such a worry that we start to be argumentative and to complain.

We may have very real complaints, like we don’t have enough water; or that the medicine isn’t helping us, or our ex is treating us like dirt, or our child won’t talk to us; we may have very real complaints, we may be lacking something that is necessary and life giving, but what if there is also a spiritual issue behind our complaints.

In some cases, the reason we become angry, the reason we start arguing with the doctors, or the lawyers, or even our family members is because we are afraid that God is not walking alongside us. We are afraid that we have been abandoned and left to die in the desert places of life. We no longer trust that our future is protected by the one who made us. Our situation has created a cloud of doubt within us. We feel like we have lost our faith. I find it interesting that it is so obvious to us that God was with the Israelites and yet at the same time it can be so hard for us to see that God is with us personally!

Perhaps if someone were to write the story of our lives out for us, we would be able to see it. Perhaps if we read the heavenly account, to see miracle after miracle that has occurred in our lives, whether we were aware of them or not, then maybe we would feel just as confident that God is with us as we are confident that God was with the Israelites.

One of the exercises that we assign to new candidates for ministry is to draw out their lives as a river. The river starts at their birth and it flows through time to where they are today. Along the way, there have been twists and turns, slow and calm places, and places with rapids and waterfalls. There may be places where new streams merged with ours or waters split into diverging streams. They are to draw it, and present it to the other candidates.

Perhaps the next time we are tempted to ask whether God is with us, we need to do the river exercise, and draw out our lives on a piece of paper. Then, as we look at that river, where are the places where we felt God most closely? What are the times when we know that God protected us? When have we experienced miracles that truly saved us? Often what we discover is that God has been with us throughout our lives, and although we are afraid today, although we have worries, God has been faithful in the past. We can draw on that to help us with the situation we are currently in, to help us trust that God is with us now.

Barbara Milligan, writing for the National Association for Christian Recovery writes about how she “was haunted by questions like, Am I really saved? Does God really love me? Is there really a God, and did Jesus really die for me, or did somebody make all this up?”

Questions that might be summed up in the same question the Israelites asked, “Is God really with me or not?” She then writes that looking back through her life helps her when she asks those questions: “I remember the dark nights of crying out to God when I was lonely or afraid, and the warmth of God’s presence that often came to me within minutes. I remember sensing that God was leading me as I decided to move 400 miles from my childhood home without a job or a place to live. I remember God beginning to heal my emotional wounds, freeing me from some codependent patterns and helping me develop healthy boundaries. And I remember many of God’s personal, daily gifts to me–a hummingbird in flight, staring into my face from two feet away, or an encouraging conversation with someone I trusted, or a glimpse of something good that God was doing in a situation that had tied my stomach into knots.”

“Despite my doubts, God met me in all those ways, and more. Over and over, I was invited to experience God. I experienced God’s presence, God’s guidance, God’s compassion, God’s comfort, God’s nurturing, God’s strength, God’s love and many more aspects of God’s character.” [1]

You see the good news is that although we doubt, although we worry, although we are afraid, it does not mean that God is not present, and God is not at work. Our doubts do not hold God out of our lives.

Our worries do not prevent God from working. Look at this passage. Even though the people are complaining and argumentative and even though Moses has no idea what to do with them, God steps in, gives instruction and leads the people to thirst quenching water.

Often in our lives, even though we do not deserve it, even though our trust in God is not all that great, even though we may argue and complain, God actually does good and miraculous things for us anyway! Why? Because even though we are sinners, God loves us and will not leave us – ever. Even when we fail to see God there.

So the point of this passage is not, stop whining or stop arguing with the pastor, although I might like it to be. No, the point of the passage is that when we are worried and afraid, and we find ourselves angry at all around us; perhaps we need to be reminded that, “Yes, God is with me.” Read the story of your life, look at the heavenly account, and see just how much God has done for you. And then use that to reassure yourself that God will continue to be with you in the future – even if that future leads you out into the desert with no water. God will not abandon you. Ever.

[1] http://www.nacr.org/center-for-spirituality-and-recovery/recovery-from-doubt-experiencing-god