Read Exodus 17:1-7.
The last few days Megan and I have been doing a 7 fast. Megan is using Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess in a Bible study this semester at her church. Each week there is a different fast from the excess in our lives. The idea is that we would limit ourselves with seven different foods. Some choose to fast from 7 foods. Whatever you do, the point is to be consistent. My friend Sarah is doing it too, and she blogged about her first day here.
Megan and I decided to eat a Costa Rican diet of chicken, rice, beans, fruits and veggies for a week. In this way, we would connect with the people of Costa Rica, especially those in the shantytown of Los Diques I met over 8 years ago on my first mission trip there.
I will say that I was looking forward to it. I love Costa Rican food. It is so delicious! The first day was Thursday. I had traditional rice and beans for breakfast. The time between breakfast and lunch seemed to last an eternity. I was starving by the time I ate lunch, which were simple tacos, nothing fancy. For dinner, we made traditional arroz con pollo – chicken and rice. For those of you who remember Pura Vida Cafe in Mechanicsville, I used their recipe. I snacked only once, post dinner after two church meetings. And that was a banana.
I didn’t think it would be so hard! But sometime Friday, as my stomach longed for something other than rice and beans, I thought of the children living in Los Diques. Some of them would be lucky to have the rice and beans I was already tired of eating. I have watched church leaders in that shantytown fix plates of food and take it to a “house” (a term I use loosely) where the children living in the home had a mother addicted to so many pills, that she was not aware that her children had not eaten that day. The reality was that those church leaders looking out for those children, did not enough food themselves.
In our text today from Exodus, the people of God are on this journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. There are still pretty new to the journey. They have not yet received the Ten Commandments. A dispute breaks out between the people and Moses, their leader, over the lack of water. Water in the ancient world was very much a matter of life and death. The lack of water was enough to cause some to wonder if they had made the wrong decision. Were they better off in Egypt, where they had water? In Egypt, they had water. In Egypt they had shelter from the hot, burning sun. In Egypt, it sucked being slaves, but they had certain comforts they are lacking now.
It is easy, and frankly has often been done, to make the text about the Israelites misbehaving again and complaining and not trusting God. The Israelites had just left Egypt, and were traveling through the desert and wilderness. Water was not just a comfort, but a necessity. Nyasha Junior writes, “When people are still concerned with basic needs, they require not a rebuke for lack of faithfulness, but compassion.” Perhaps there are such people in our communities who are faithful, yet lack the basic needs. During my first mission trip to Costa Rica, that was what I found. Faithful people who lacked the basic needs of water, food, and electricity.
As we contemplate this Lent the brokenness of our relationships with God and others, let us not forget those who are thirsty or hungry.