Summary: Waiting can be difficult in the best of times - but God calls us to wait!
What Is Your Idol Made Of? Exodus 32:1-14
Mark Rader reported the following story: “a speedboat driver had recently survived a racing accident. According to the driver, he had been at near top speeds when his boat veered slightly and hit a wave at a dangerous angle. The combined force of his speed and the size and angle of the wave sent the boat spinning crazily into the air. He was thrown from his seat and propelled deeply into the water—so deep, in fact, that he had no idea which direction the surface was. He had to remain calm and wait for… his life vest to begin pulling him up. Once he discovered which way was up, he could swim for the surface.”
Sometimes we find ourselves not knowing “which way is up.” When this happens, we are to remain calm, wait for God’s gentle tug to pull us in the proper direction.
Unfortunately, when the Israelites became confused about Moses they took actions into their own hands. They were unwilling to wait and allow God to gently nudge them in the right direction. Instead of turning to God for a life vest, they turned to Aaron, Moses’ brother and said, “Look make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don’t know what has happened to him” (Exodus 32:1b – New Living Translation).
The first thing to note about the Israelites’ response is that in their moment of uncertainty they panicked and were unable to tell themselves the truth about the situation. Although they declared that they did not know where Moses had gone, they most certainly knew that he had climbed Mount Sinai.
How do you respond in a crisis? Are you ready to give up the minute the road of life starts to present a series of bumps? The Israelites were willing to throw in the towel on the God who had led them out of Egypt across the Red Sea, provided manna and quail for them, and offered them water from a rock. Are you willing to call it quits on God the first time you receive a negative report from a doctor? Or the first time you are laid off? Or the first time you don’t believe the church family is behaving in a manner pleasing to God?
Commitment requires a person to stick with it when the going gets tough. Many times commitment seems to be lacking in our society. And yet, I must say I have seen pictures of great faith in this community of believers. I have heard the faith of those who have received a less than favorable health report from their doctor. I have witnessed the faith of those who have had to say goodbye to a loved one. And we are a family of faith for we stuck together through some of the most challenging times. We did not permit a “Golden Calf” to lead us.
Now, that is the good news, here is the bad news. The Lord has laid it upon my heart the past few days to share the rest of the story with you. It wasn’t only that the Israelites had given up on God; they wanted something tangible as an expression of their faith. They believed that not being able to see this God was a detriment to them. And doing something was better than doing nothing. I can relate to this feeling. In one of my journal entries I wrote the following, “Lord, oh how I enjoy doing tangible ministries. It is so hard for me to be present to others because I so deeply feel their pain. It becomes so real. Lord in your mercy forgive me.”
The Israelites were willing to surrender their gold earrings in an effort to see an object of faith. They could see their “god” and their “god” could see them. They popularized the saying, “Seeing is Believing.”
On Thursday afternoon and evening, we had the privilege of hosting four young adult volunteers. Each of the young women had given the last year in serve to the larger church. Two of the young women served in Guatemala another served in Northern Ireland and a woman from London served in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was anxious to hear their stories because I was curious to learn how the Lord had utilized their gifts and abilities. What I heard was far different than what I had expected. I assumed they would tell us about the Bible studies they had taught and the programs they had developed. Instead they shared how their ministries had been primarily ministries of presence. They didn’t state any statistics about the “success” of their ministries. Rather they emphasized the significance of being present with the people in times of suffering and how they each waited for the Lord to work in and through them.