Lent Day 39: Is the Lord Among Us?
7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
This text is hard to image when you consider that the God of Israel was always with them. Whether in a pillar of cloud by day or pillar of fire by night. He was always with them. They were so soon to forget this was the same God that delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and allowed them to cross the Red Sea. But we should not be too hard on them, because we are also prone to forget the Lord who has delivered us from perilous times in our lives—and yet he continues to say yes to us when we call.
We have all been in a wilderness place in our lives. Where resources are scarce, and trouble and tragedy seem to be closer than the Lord. Brueggemann calls them thin places. “The theme of wilderness is an appropriate one for Lent, for Lent is being in thin places without resources and being driven back to the elemental reality of God, the reliability of God, and our capacity to trust God in the thin places where there are no other resources.”
In this moment God seems far away, even though his word reminds us that he is near, as he leads us beside the still waters. We still, when under pressure, ask if he is still present in our pain. But even in our faithless question he responds to our questions with the living water of not only his presence but the provision of water for our physical thirst. “And when God gives water for life, Israel’s deep question is answered; Yes; the Lord is among us!”
He takes our wasted places, wilderness places and our wondering places and makes them a river of living water, even from the most unlikely places. From the rough places in our lives comes living water from a rock. Jesus is that rock, the water that springs up giving life to our souls, and sustenance for our survival. Jesus’ answer is always yes, even when we don’t understand what that yes means. This is the story of Easter, when death on Friday seemed like the ultimate no to his future and ours, God said yes on Sunday morning.
Brueggemann shares his confidence in the ‘yes’ of Jesus. “The story is about God’s inexplicable capacity to do well-being in a world that has been shut down. Yes, even in wilderness, Yes in Lent. Yes from rock, yes to thirst. Yes to us, yes to the world, the story is about being dazzled beyond every explanation, Yes, Yes, Yes!”
Because in Jesus God's answer is yes to us, let our answer of obedience be yes to him today!
“God of yes, you continually show yourself faithful. In the face of scarcity, in the barrenness of our wilderness places, you know our needs, and you meet them. All along our path, open our minds and hearts to trust you fully. Amen.”
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.