April showers bring May flowers. . . . Boy, am I sick of April showers, but an abundance of May flowers will be worth it. Last year I could not get my pool filled; this year it’s already overflowing. I have to keep dumping off the excess water every time it rains. But isn’t that the way life is sometimes?
I’ve been spending a lot of time recently in the book of Exodus, which is, of course, about Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites. Together, they escaped the Egyptians’ hold on them.
The Israelites were also having their troubles with water. One minute they have all the food and water they need, and then a few chapters later, when things get tight, they start grumbling against Moses and Aaron, “Give us water to drink! If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! Why did you bring us out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3)
Wow! I mean, really, that’s a little bit overkill, isn’t it? “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt,” that’s better than being hungry or thirsty? Keep in mind that, “Woe is us!” is the Israelites’ go-to line whenever food or water are not to be found. “Woe is us! Why did you drag us out of Egypt? If only we had died by the LORD’S hand!”
Peter says, in his second letter, something like, “A washed pig always returns to the mud.” (I’m paraphrasing here.) Are the Israelites really saying that they would be better off back in Egypt where they were slaves? Moses rescued them; he didn’t drag them out. Moses rescued them from Pharaoh and Egypt, so they are now free people! But. . . they still act like slaves, waiting for someone to provide water for them, provide food for them. “What?. . . wait, Lord! You’ll provide for us, BUT you want us to follow your rules? We didn’t really have to follow any rules like that when we were slaves in Egypt!”
I don’t believe that they were slaves in the terms that most of us would think. Most of us think of slaves like the African slaves, unwillingly brought to this country, chained, beaten, and held against their will. I believe these people (the Israelites) more closely resemble what this country refers to as illegal aliens. They were in a country which was not theirs, Egypt. They were forced to live under the laws and culture of that country. They were the poorest of the poor, “cheap labor,” who were, in a sense, accepting of their place in life. No wonder Pharoah didn’t want to let them go! They were just pigs in the mud, following whatever rules were handed down before them. Woe is us!
It takes Moses and God a long time to get them to see that there is something better on the other side, that it just takes time, but that they will eventually reach the Promised Land. Well, some of them will.
I’ve got to think of this abundance of spring rain as just a rough spot that we need to get through as we wind down our long Exodus journey from winter into the Promised Land of summer, where we soon will be grumbling like the Israelites. “God, it’s too hot! Why did you take us out of the coolness of spring to the over-present heat of summer? Bring us to the chill of fall!”
Keep the faith. Come on, May flowers; summer’s a-comin’!
In Christ, Pastor Gary