As I sat in my living room one afternoon, I could hear thunder roll nearby and see fat rain drops fall in bursts on my deck. It reminded me of early spring days living in the raw bottoms of central Illinois when I was sixteen. At that time, my family had spent several months living in a school bus, fishing and carrying water from McGee Creek and cooking fresh-killed game over open fires. With no end in sight, we tired of our meager diet and daily drudgery.
I asked my father, “Why do we have to live this way?” Our only agenda was day-to-day necessities. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Is this how life was for the Israelites in their years in the wilderness? From the beginning, they questioned and accused both God and Moses.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Deuteronomy 14:10-12 NIV). “There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’” (Numbers 21:5 NIV).
They couldn’t see past each moment, each day, or night. Their focus had been back in Egypt where they had memories of plenty to eat and drink.
My experience caused me to be angry with my father for many years, and my anger strangled my personal growth. I only recently understood the blessings God gave to me in the bottoms. He strengthened me in physical ability and endurance. I learned to observe, discern and adapt in order to survive. I became a vital member of a team—my family. Knowing that other members relied on me for what I could provide gave me a sense of belonging.
When I accepted Jesus as my Lord, He increased my spiritual strength through church attendance, Bible study, Sunday school, missions, and women’s ministry. I became a member of His team, called to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ alongside you.
“Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land” (Deuteronomy 8:6-7 NIV).
In Christian Love,