the log that makes bitter water sweet*

the log that makes bitter water sweet

22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” (Exodus 15:22-26, ESV; emphases added)

They were in the wilderness for three days. Three days without water. Then Marah. Marah had water. But the water could not be consumed because it was bitter.  The Israelites responded by grumbling against Moses. Moses responded by crying out to the LORD. The LORD showed him what He would use, through Moses, to make the bitter water sweet.

Are you there?
In the wilderness?
Walking through a difficult season?

You may have accepted that there is no way around.
Only through.

Or you were moving toward acceptance.
Determined not to complain.
Or at least to complain less.
Trusting that things would not get worse.

But now you are at “Marah.”
And you realize that you were wrong.
Things can get worse.

For Marah is a place of bitter water.
And from all you can experience through your natural senses,
there is nothing here that will refresh.
Nothing that will make the wilderness bearable.
There is nothing life-giving in this place.

In our Marahs, we have two choices: grumble like the Israelites; or, like Moses, cry out to the LORD. He is the only One who knows how, and is both willing and able, to transform what is bitter into something sweet. He has the “log” which, when brought into that which is bitter, transforms it. The “log” is His Word. The “log” is His love.  The “log” is His grace. The “log” is His power all wrapped up in His finished work of redemption through the Cross (Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, and resurrection). We can cry out to Him to in our Marahs and He will transform that which is bitter into something life giving . . .  even when that which is bitter is us. He says to us as He did to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, your healer.” Will you allow Him to heal you?

 

*This post is a revised version of a post published on this blog on February 20, 2017.

The stick that makes iron float

The stick that makes iron float

And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. 2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

So he answered, “Go.”

3 Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

6 So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. 7 Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:1-7, NKJV)

Loss can occur while you are doing something good. And what you lose can both be what you need to continue on and, due to the circumstances under which the loss occurred, can seem irrecoverable. This was the situation faced by one of the sons of the prophets, as told in 2 Kings 6:1-7 (NKJV).

It is also a situation that each of us can face. In the process of building, working, living, we can lose an “ax head.” The “ax head” can be our strength, peace of mind, joy, purpose, trust, etc. And the water which swallowed it can be any human experience which overwhelms, devastates, destroys, or produces an outcome that is unbearable.

Thankfully, in these moments, when we cry out to God, our Father, He is able to restore what was lost. He has “a stick that makes iron float.” The “stick” is His Word, His grace, His mercy, His healing, His power, etc. Out of His endless supply He is able to restore what we lost and enable us take hold of whatever the “iron” or “ax head” is that is necessary to continue doing what He has commissioned us to do.