Week 18 Monday

By Stages

Today’s scripture selection: Exodus 17-20

Key verse: Exodus 17:1

“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded.”

Long journeys are best traveled in stages.

But, people also get very impatient on the journey, especially if their perceived needs aren’t met.  Just ask Moses – who had to deal with a grumbling nation of travelers.

They went so far to say to their guide, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”

When met with this complaint, Moses was wise enough to go to the Lord for answers.  And more than answers – he sought real, practical help.  The Lord provided that help, in the form of water, ironically gushing forth from a dry rock, which he had Moses strike open.

Time and again an unfaithful people tested God – time and again he proved them wrong – by providing what they needed most, exactly when they needed it.

How different their journey might have been – and how much shorter – if they had only traveled step by step in faith.

That’s an important lesson for us to learn – and the sooner the better.  If we can undergird our daily walk with God, with studying the Bible, and with faithful prayer, we won’t often go off path.

We may find, now and then, that we think our needs aren’t being met.  We may doubt and think God has left us to fend for ourselves.  We may fear.  We may even get angry now and then and start grumbling.  “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us?”  There are, after all, many kinds of bondage from which we might be graciously set free – only to wish we were back “home” in familiar territory when the going gets rough.

But slavery is slavery – and freedom is freedom.  And we find freedom by taking the route God lovingly provided – step by step – in stages.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, strengthen my faith by your Holy Spirit, that I may walk in trust with you, wherever you lead.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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