Text: Exodus 15:22-27, Exodus 16:1-36, Exodus 17:1-7, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Psalm 105:40-42
“EVERYBODY OUTSIDE,” I yelled, losing all of my carefully collected cool babysitter points in one fell swoop. The freckled brother and sister looked defeated, realizing their plan to convince me to let them sleep in the refrigerator doors had misfired.
We stood in the backyard with grass up to our ankles, my feet the only ones remaining still.
The girl’s pigtails twirled as she spread her arms and began spinning around and around in a circle. “Topsy turvy!” the boy squealed in delight, joining his sister until their knees buckled and hit the ground, their heads continuing to spin. They laughed at the dizzy, dark spots in their vision, and stood up to begin again. “You too!” they gestured.
I obliged, joining in for the sake of the thank-goodness-we’re-over-the-refrigerator incident. My arms, double the span of theirs, flung wide as I twirled around, my ponytail flapping in the wind. My knees buckled, and I stared into the same dizzy, dark spots. But it wasn’t very fun, and I didn’t want to do it again. Although it had been years since I’d worn pigtails and found joy in my own topsy turvy-ing, the resulting feeling felt strangely familiar. It was disorienting, unknown and scary, much like the wilderness.
I experience the same dizziness when I’m tossed by fear, pushed by doubt, and wrangled by sin, so I thrash for control. The Israelites did something similar, asking questions they hoped would domesticate the wild:
“What are we to drink?” (Exodus 15: 24).
“What is it?” (Exodus 16:15).
“Why did you do this?” (Exodus 17:3).
“Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).
With no response in sight, they continued to spin aimlessly, dizzied spots masking their eyes.
As I sat in the grass watching the kids continue to twirl, I was reminded of a trick I’d learned in ballet as a little girl—spotting. In order to prevent dizziness, you choose a still object to fix your eyes on. With every turn of the pirouette, your head whips around to find your focal point, and you remain upright and dizzy-free. Reminded of this trick from childhood, I stood up, determined to try one more time. This time I glued my eyes to a nearby birdhouse as my body rotated again and again. It worked!
Moses must have known this trick, too. While the Israelites continued to whirl in the wilderness, Moses kept His eyes fixed on one thing—God. With each unsettling turn of circumstances, Moses’ knees never buckled. God’s provision kept Moses standing firm by turning water from bitter to sweet (Exodus 15:25), raining manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4), and providing drinking water from the rock of Christ (Exodus 17:6).
Moses’ determination was to remain upright in God’s promises, and he was used to fulfill the biggest one of them all—God’s holy promise to Abraham (Psalm 105:42). God established an entire nation of descendants through Moses!
Friend, do you feel dizzied by the wilderness? Today, let’s try fixing our eyes on God’s presence. Let’s choose to trade the unsteady dark spots for the clarity of His faithfulness. May our spinning be steadied by His almighty hand. Amen.
Here are the questions of the
wilderness, “What!” “Where!”
“How?” Faith has a brief but
comprehensive answer to all
the three, namely, God!
–Charles Henry Mackintosh