Preparing to Launch the Oasis of Elim in 2014
You’ve just been rescued from under the heavy yoke of slavery. Praise God! Still, that doesn’t quench the thirst you now have. You’ve been traveling in the Las Vegas mid-summer heat or shall I say, Sinai Desert, for three days without any sign of water. Your mind drifts with every step as you think about a cool cup of water touching your lips just moments before dehydration sets in. Finally, you see it . . . 7-Eleven! Actually it was Marah! When you get there you discover they are sold out of FIJI, Evian, Perrier, or any of the other top 10 brands of water. The only water on the shelves (i.e., in the pools) is tainted – it’s bitter! Now what? Who are you going to blame? You chose to go on this trip. Is it your fault? Can you blame the leader who brought you here, why didn’t she strategically check out the water supply before traveling? What about the delivery guy? Didn’t he know the water he delivered was not drinkable; or, was he drinking out of a different cup?
“After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water (Exodus 15:27).”
The oasis of Marah was named for the water the Israelites found there – bitter! And yes, they did get angry with Moses and looked to their leader for the answer. He then went to his leader, God, on their behalf – and was given the answer: throw a piece of wood into the water to make it sweet (Exodus 15:25).” Wood? I prefer sugar! Yet, even in this strange instruction we discover a testimony to how God takes something unexpected we wouldn’t consider, to do something extraordinary. It was also at Marah the Lord set a decree to test their faithfulness to Him (Ex. 15:25-26).
Imagine arriving at the oasis of Elim after that experience. Elim is “where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees (Ex. 15:27).” This sounds like a resort to me. Camp here? Maybe not the Cosmopolitan, but no complaining now – I’d love to stay for the night – do you mind if I choose a tent with a view of the water?
Maybe it’s been too long since we’ve been to Elim with our people. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been to Elim for myself or for my family. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been to Elim with God. Sometimes we settle for Marah (bitterness) when Elim is only a few miles down the road.
If I wade in the pools of Marah for too long, I may become bitter and point my finger in the wrong direction. If I begin to drown out the voice of God, I may never hear that all it takes is a piece of wood to make things sweet again.
What if we take some time to splash around in some water together for a while? I believe we will experience something extraordinary together. What if we splashed around in twelve springs just to see what God might do? I’m going to dive into Proverbs, Chapter 16, for further instruction.
Splash 1) Wear a life jacket. Search our hearts and know that we know, that we know, that we know – we have not drifted out past the boundary of obedience. “When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them (Prov. 16:7).”
Splash 2) Sit under a palm to make plans for the day and enjoy the view WITH God. “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer (Prov. 16:1).”
Splash 3) Walk out on the diving board and try a backwards flip to love and faithfulness. Sometimes returning to what is right requires faith as well. “Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil (Prov. 16:6).”
Splash 4) Go deep sea diving in the patience of relationship building and rekindle as necessary. If we stay in the shallow end of surface relationships, we’ll drown in the sorrow of loneliness. “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city (Prov. 16:32).”
Splash 5) Float around a lazy river with someone you love learning from instead of pouring so much overtime into what only lasts on this earth. “How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver (Prov. 16:16)!”
Splash 6) Fill up some squirt guns and have fun with our kids in the middle of a hard homework moment. Who are your kids? What is the homework? Interesting that the two words home and work are combined. “When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain (Prov. 16:15).”
Splash 7) Allow ourselves to fail at something new – belly flops only sting for a while! Eventually we’ll get it right if we’ve committed what we do in line with God. “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed (Prov. 16:3).”
Splash 8) Pour encouragement into every single person on the team by inviting everyone to an after-event party. Tell stories that pat everyone on the back for a job well done. How risky is that? “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Prov. 16:24).”
Splash 9) Turn on the fountain of prayer for your enemies. “The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster (Prov. 16:4).”
Splash 10) Show someone else how to ride the waves of faith – who are you mentoring? Or, who do you need to be mentored by? “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful (Prov. 16:20).”
Splash 11) Try putting a wet suit on a dry body. Or, ask for some counsel especially when something is going so wrong and there is a way to make it right. “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Prov. 16:18).”
Splash 12) Try team building on the whitewater rapids while taking into account the advantages of weight distribution. Unless God tells us to throw Jonah overboard, we must do all we can to keep him on the boat. “The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness (Prov. 16:11).”
These are not goals to accomplish in a new year. Instead, the above are some personal ponderings with splashes of God’s Word to live by as I prepare to launch an Oasis of Elim in 2014 during a test of faithfulness.