Number 11: 4-6; 13-20
Today’s passage begins, the rabble among them had a strong craving and the Israelites also wept again saying, “If only we had meat. We have nothing but this manna to look at”.
As we all remember that the manna last week was God’s daily provision in the desert and I made the point that the most important part about it for us is the translation of its name, which is what is it--What is it, God, that you are doing? What is it that you are calling us to do?
The whole point of the wilderness journey is to form faith which means we don’t get a lot of answers. We get mostly questions because its questions that make room for faith to form. But the rabble undermined these questions. The rabble distract us from the important questions like what is it that God is doing today? Instead, the rabble were stuck in the lament, if only.
If only we had meat to eat. If only we were back in Egypt. If only we had something other than these questions along the way in the wilderness journey. Within the lament of ‘if only’ is that I had made different choices. That’s the problem with ‘if only’.
It preoccupies us with either the future or the past and it blinds us to the present tense in which we remember that the present was the only place that the manna was found in the present day. Without daily taking in these questions--What is it that God is doing? What is it that the one who brought the Israelites through the water is about us today?--we are always anxious, never joyful.
So, the real rabble that we want to worry about is not the people around us in the community but the rabble that exists within our own heart. Because our hearts are filled with conflicting agendas.
If your heart is like mine, especially over the last couple of days, there are bad things going on in there. There are so many conflicting ideas about how we respond to this global pandemic. And they are all trying to hijack the agenda. Again, without the manna, the question, what is it that God is doing, the rabble inside us will take over.
When we are in leadership, it is tempting to think that it is our job to get the people to the promised land. But, it is actually God’s job to get the people, our friends, our family, and our community to the promised land. And our job is just to hold them in our heart along the way.
I know what my job may look like. Over the last years, I might be burned out sometimes.
Well, we all may be burned out with this pandemic. However, the only reason we can remain faithful is because we trust God—we know that our past and our future are clear because of the God who still lead and protect us with pillars of cloud and fire; the God who still makes a way by dividing the water; and the God who still provide and nurture us with the manna, the healthy and daily questions, what is it…
Thanks be to God.