"Please, please," I pleaded with my father, "don't make me go back there."
But he didn't give in. We had just arrived from Bolivia
and unable to speak or understand English, attending school was torture
Back then, there were no ESL classes. There was no dial
one for Spanish. There were no teachers who spoke Spanish. Thus, seated
at my desk in the back of the classroom, my 12-year-stomach cramped
trying to understand the teacher.
Sixth grade girls surrounded my
desk, pointed at me, whispering to each other. I did look different,
wearing regular clothes from Bolivia rather than the plaid skirts and
white blouses they all wore.
They also found my pierced ears to
be bizarre. In 1964, pierced ears for young girls was strangely odd.
But to me, everything about our new life in America seemed odd. Once
back from school and in our small apartment, I whined about the painful
experience. I asked over and over again why we had to leave Bolivia
where I had friends, where I was accepted, and invited to join the games
Eventually, we learned to speak English, made friends
and embraced the American culture. And now well-adjusted, you would
think as an adult my whining stopped. It didn't. I complained when
things went wrong. When my plans fell apart. When my dreams remained as
dreams. And when those I loved failed me.
So sad; I was no
different than the Israelites when, in the heat of the desert, they
growled and shook their sweaty fists at God. With no shame, they had
turned into pioneers in the whining department as recorded in the book
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and
there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and
cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there
were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What
have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in
Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?' It would have been
better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
(Ex. 14:11-12 NIV)
Can you blame them? They were probably
exhausted, hungry, tired, and thirsty and discontentment was the topic
of conversation around the campfire each night.
We get that way
sometimes too, don't we? Deep into our own struggles, we end up
terrified like the Israelites. We grumble in the hot desert of
frustration. And as we trudge through the dry land of conflict, of
uncertainty and nervousness, we desperately look to be rescued.
Though we look around, we can't see God, who's ready to do the rescuing.
We're too busy grumbling. And no matter how we try to get away, the
Egyptians called stress and anxiety come after us, threatening to ruin
But they ruin nothing because no matter what time or how
much we complain, God's mercy shows up like morning dew, with a fresh
promise to deliver us.
"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be
afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring
you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The
LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.'" (Exodus
God, almighty and faithful, will fight our battles.
He will lift up the weapons of His power. Our job is simple: to be
still. And in that stillness of God's presence is when our nights know
His peace. In the still of our heart is when His whisper brushes
through. And in the still of the moment is when contentment walks and
settles in for good.
Let's Pray: Father, thank you for the
gift of contentment found only in silent, still moments in Your
presence. No matter what pursues me or threatens me, I pray contentment
is what I'll find in the quiet moments with You. In Jesus' name, amen.
In the midst of your hectic life, what keeps you from being still?
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