Posted by: Mad Lamb | 16/06/2012

Faith in dry places

It’s been an odd week. Life has taken so many twists and turns it has made me quite dizzy. Yet in all of this I was following some old Bible study notes that seemed to make sense of it all.

The passages were taken from Exodus chapters 16-17. It is the story of the Israelites on their way from Egyptian captivity to the Promised Land. Not I would suggest I would describe my current life as being in capitivity or that Bristol is the Promised Land. However, it is a story of a journey away from the familiar into the unknown.

The section on the provision of manna and quail was not only one of provision in the desert but also one of trusting that the provision would be enough for the day. In contrast when those instructions seemed to be reversed to gather twice so there would be a rest over the Sabbath there was still trust that God’s voice was heard.

For those days we had our plans turned left, right, back and forth we strained to hear God’s voice. Yet in every turn we looked forward and said, if this is the way we will go there. It wasn’t easy only going as far as we felt led. There was a temptation to ‘gather more’ by trying to take control and make more decisions than we had information for.

The next section in the passage was where the Israelites, not satisfied with manna and quail, grumbled for water. I wonder if they didn’t trust God to supply a basic need? Yet Moses took their complaint to God who showed His grace and provided. In all that we need to make our move from here to there I am wondering whether I ‘moan’ too much about what I need next when God will provide in his own time and in His order. Amongst all our desert times God provided water from a rock in an unexpected offer from our proposed buyer for our house in Scotland after a collapsed chain. I feel relieved, humble and guilty at the same time.

Even so, I’m left yearning for more as we need to find a house in Bristol in time to leave Devon and I would prefer to have a job closer to Bristol to save on transport costs. In my dilema of whether to act or wait, to trust or panic, the notes took me to the story of Joshua fighting the Amalekites who were opposing the Israelites. While Joshua led troops on the ground, Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the mountain. It wasn’t just to get a better view of the action but to take their plight to God. Moses raised his hands and staff. Aaron and Hur supported him when he got weary until the action was completed. Here I was reminded there is a link between prayer and action and both were needed. I felt less guilty about needing more but realised prayer is not just about an alternative to action but the driving force and source of hearing God’s voice about what direction to go.

And so here is the mix of trusting and waiting, action and prayer and knowing when to do each. Is this not where our faith becomes our way of life as we seek to hear which God calls us to do and not act in our own strength?

Before I left these passages and prepared to find the nearest ‘mountain’ where I could pray over the actions needed in the coming weeks to overcome the issues before me, the Bible note writer pointed me to Deuternomy chapter 8. It is here that there are warnings that when the Promised Land is reached not to get complacent in the comforts we find there but to remember it was God who led through the desert and provided miracles to sustain and protect on the journey. How fickle a people we are and how easily we forget such important things.

Having faith when we are without strength or vision, can be easier as we trust in something outside ourselves to provide. But perhaps it is at times of comfort when our faith and spirituality has to be stronger, to resist the temptation to be self-sufficient.This is a reminder that we never stop travelling in our journey of faith. Our perceived ‘Promised Land’ is only one more place along the way.



  1. Thanks for posting this Elaine. It really blessed me today.

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