A Piece of Wood


I heard an interesting sermon on worship yesterday that caused me to reflect on leadership and the one true remedy for our human frailties.

The setting was the Red Sea, with Egyptians chasing “the church”, at least the beginnings of it, i.e., the children of Israel.  Of course you know the story, the Red Sea blocks their escape and fear grips the bulk of the “congregation” until a leader puts his toe in the water.  It’s amazing how little people change, even over millennia.

This leader, Moses, already has his head on the block, having brought this massive group of complainers out of bondage, only to run headlong into this Charlton Heston moment of too much water!

Yet, with Moses’ toe in the water, the sea opens up and the fearful crowd walks across on dry land.  Then suddenly, as the enemy, whom I’m sure was terrified by what has just happened, mustered the courage to enter this mysterious channel of walled water only to have it collapse on them, destroying the armies of Pharaoh.  Of course, the next scene is one of jubilation and triumph, as Moses and others sing of “the horse and rider thrown into the sea.” (Ex. 15:1-2)

Then life changes again, and within 3 days they find themselves in the wilderness with no water.  We’ve gone from walls of water, to parched lands of desert.  Not only do people seldom change but life as well.   You may have already identified with these scenarios?

Desperate, these people struggle through that desert experience, finally arriving again at a place of water but it is now found bitter.

I trust these stories are real, but I know they reflect real life metaphors, not only the hills and valleys we often trudge through as humans, but the realities of how we as people respond to those situations and to the leaders who love and serve us, whether preacher or politician!

The Red Sea, too much water; the Wilderness of Shur, too little water; then on to Marah, a place of bitterness, all three possibly reflecting the spirit of the people involved in each situation?

In places of plenty, people grow shallow and fearful without leadership; in places of famine and thirst, people murmur about the good old days or the places they left.  Then often, when staring at the very thing they have needed, in this case water, they even find something wrong with that.

Am I any different, sorry to say I am not?  I am human. Reading Romans 7 would be a good place of departure at this time, but not before we see God’s remedy for this people.

What was it?  A piece of wood, cast into the waters, with the waters then made sweet!

Was this God, prepping us for Calvary…a piece of wood…a cross?

With over 60 years of experience in human skin, and about 40 in leadership, it’s always been the wood that has made my life sweet, and on occasion, both horse and rider thrown into the sea!

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