The Christ Life (Part 2)
“When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter (That is why the place is called Marah.). So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water and the water became sweet. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’”
Let’s pick up with the following from last week’s post on the meaning of the Christ Life. We find Moses and the people of the exodus at the bitter waters of Mara. They are just three days out from the miracle of crossing the sea, after the resurrection of our Lord, the greatest miracle to occur thus far on earth. Yet they were already groaning, griping, and complaining. The Israelites cried out against their leader when they found undrinkable water in the desert. Blaming a leader is always the first reaction of immature and self-centered people. Moses’ reaction is a magnificent example to all who wish to live the Christ Life. Faced with turmoil, problems, demands, injustice, and rebellion, he turned to his Lord and was shown the divine plan for deliverance, overcoming, and sweetness.
Our lives can be dominated by the sweetness of grace if we learn to keep stirring the bitter waters of earth with the cross of Jesus (Ex. 15:23-27). If we authentically cry out to Christ as our only deliverer, He will answer us and show us what to do. As He did with Moses, He will show us a new dimension of reality. The Redeemer will reveal to us immediately the cross we are to take and use to overcome our crisis. Note that when the people turned on Moses in criticism, blame, and rage, he didn’t react against them. Instead, he went to God. This is always the mark of maturity as we live with our own imperfections and the wearying imperfections of others. The Hebrew word here symbolizing the cross could be translated stick, piece of wood, log or tree. Whatever it was, it was enough. None of us will ever grasp the full meaning of our Lord’s cross, but if we see enough of it in whatever form in the midst of our crisis and trust its power over our problem, our situation will become enjoyable.
What is our Christ-Life lesson from this incident? To the Cross-disciple (one who is focused on the Christ Life), it makes absolutely no difference what people do to you, say about you, or how they fail you. All that eternally matters is that you respond to all other people, both outwardly and inwardly, in such a way that you please the Father. We should be like His Son when He said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Pleasing the Father about how you respond to people will steadily blow away any and all pain people may cause you. Besides, we need to be harassed by the imperfections of others so we will expedite our hunger and search for the perfections of our Savior.
Think of the delight in the Lord’s heart when He saw Moses make his great decision. Instead of cursing back at the people who were cursing him, Moses turned from their foolishness and disbelief and sought the counsel of His Redeemer. Even though the people were faithlessly wrong in their grumbling and self-centeredness and Moses was obediently right, he still left them alone and cried out to the Lord (15:25). One man’s belief in the Savior’s voice overcame and trumped the shallow faith of thousands of others.
The breakthrough in the impossible situation of having no water in the midst of a desert was the result of Moses’ seeking more of the Master in the midst of the mess. (This is one of my current mottos!) The Lord told Moses that the whole episode was a test of their faith. He wanted them to learn precise supernatural obedience rather than put their confidence in vague natural belief (15:26). If you are in your desert right now and are desperate for the water of life, the Lord is ready to help! Why not do what Moses did and cry out to the Lord? If your heart is ready to truly believe that dependence on the Lord is bigger than distress over your problems and you are truly ready to yield to praise to whatever might happen according to His sovereignty, then you can count on His showing you the answer to your problem, found in the cross. After all, the Lord Jesus told us life won’t work unless we take up His cross (Luke 9:23).
Just praise God for the people or events that brought you to the bitter place so you could take the test. Put His cross-answer on your test paper and the sweetness will come. That’s what students of the Christ Life learn when they listen to their Teacher. Triune thinking always shows us His cross-solution for our bitter waters. There are many things we need to learn that we don’t like learning. The lessons bring tension, anxiety, disappointment, and hurt, but they are all made temporary by faith. They teach us the mind of Christ, and to live with His mind is to overcome all that enters our experience. This is the essence of the Christ Life!
Masters at living the Christ Life have learned the great secret of endurance, overcoming, adequacy, and contentment. No matter what hits them, they have learned to throw the cross into the situation and are confident of triumph. The beloved Apostle John confirmed the process when he stated, “Fully developed love for the Father throws out all of our fears (I John 4:18); hence, one of the compelling wonders of the seeking the Christ Life.