Summary: A sermon about God's love and provision.
Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
“Don’t Worry about Complaining”
We were very blessed to have a wonderful vacation in Kiawah Island, South Carolina the week before last.
My sister recently purchased a beach house there, and that is how we were able to go.
The beach at Kiawah is amazing.
My favorite thing to do at Kiawah was to get up somewhat early in the morning and make the two mile walk down the beach to the inlet where several families of dolphins, go fishing for a couple hours every day.
To say it is fascinating, a nearly miraculous sight is an understatement.
Anyhow, the first time we took the walk to the inlet, it was adults only: Clair, myself and some friends of ours who brought their teenage daughter.
The teenage daughter and Mary Ellen stayed at the house.
After over-hearing our conversations about how fantastic the experience was, both Mary Ellen and our friend’s daughter wanted to come along.
One thing about Mary Ellen is that she doesn’t like to walk long distances.
I don’t know whether she just gets bored or whether her side really does cramp up as bad as she says and the nearly deadly need for water is as dire as her cries would indicate.
In any event, Clair offered to stay at the house with Mary Ellen while the rest of us went to see the dolphins.
But I didn’t want Clair to miss out, and I thought it would be a great experience for Mary Ellen.
So the night before, I had Mary Ellen make a “pinky-promise” with me that if we allowed her to come with us, she would not complain about the long walk—no matter what!!!
And I told Mary Ellen that I was gonna hold her to that “pinky-promise.”
Well, the walk to go see the dolphins was a breeze and a blast.
Mary Ellen was filled with energy and so very excited.
After watching the dolphins, the rest of our crew headed back to the house while Mary Ellen and I spent some time picking up star-fish and throwing them back in the water.
Then, we started the two mile trek back to the house.
And fairly soon, poor little Mary Ellen started to complain.
And I said to her, “You made a ‘pinky promise’ with me if we allowed you to come this morning you would not complain about the long walk.”
Mary Ellen replied, “I know I did daddy, but I’m only 7 years old. I can’t not complain.”
A mile and a half later we made it back to the beach house, I with Mary Ellen riding on my shoulders.
We aren’t always at our best when we complain.
Sometimes we can act irrational.
We might get cranky or even say things we don’t mean.
Adults can act like children sometimes when we aren’t getting our way.
And maybe that is a bit of the kind of image which comes to mind as we read about the Israelites complaining to Moses and Aaron in the desert.
They had been free from Egyptian bondage and slavery for 6 weeks.
They were obviously hungry, thirsty, and probably even worried about a number of other dangers lurking in the wild.
They were in a tough spot.
There can be no doubt about it.
And as a result, they became convinced that life had been better back in Egypt where they had enough food.
“Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt.
There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread.”
The people had become convinced that their past was better than their present.
And when times get tough, it sure is easy to romanticize the past.
When we aren’t enjoying our present situation, the past can easily become the “golden age” to which nothing else can compare.
Not long after graduating from high school I was having a conversation with a friend who was having a bit of a tough time of it.
He said to me, “If I had known that high school was going to be the best years of my life I would have enjoyed them more.”
If I remember right, this same friend was miserable in high school and couldn’t wait to get out from under the yoke of slavery to teachers, homework, parents, etc.
It’s about all he had talked about.
When the Israelites made their complaints, their memories were working in a very “selective way.”
The only thing they could remember was the food; they had forgotten about the brutal conditions of their slavery.
And when we, as the Church, grumble about our present condition being far worse than our past, we’re kind of doing a similar thing, are we not?