I hate to wear shoes. They pinch my feet, make me trip and fall, and I can’t feel the ground through them. I love to be shoeless. I love the way the grass tickles my toes. I love how fast I can run in the grass without them. I have walked down hot pavement without shoes. I have tiptoed across hot decks and carefully balanced across gravel driveways. If you come into the office during the week, it is very likely that you see me walking around without shoes. I am generally more comfortable without them.
But those are the upsides of being shoeless. There are many, many, downsides, as well. I had many cut feet, bruised toes, and at times burned feet. I stepped on a spring at my cousin’s house and had to carefully unwind it from my foot. I stepped on a tack and an earring bare foot. But the most common occurrence for me as a bare foot lover is the splinters is a constant part of the summertime experience. I hate splinters. But even more, I hate the cure for those splinters.
As a child, I would have to lay down on the couch or my parent’s bed while my father took out his pocket knife to remove the sliver from my foot. I always struggled to trust my father to do this. Even though he always promised that if I would just relax it would be painless and quick, and it always was. I just needed to trust him to do it. To this day when it comes to letting someone help me with something, particularly things that are potentially painful, I really struggle to trust them. I want to hold that pain to myself and if something needs to be done I will do it to myself.
Trust is hard. Trusting others, and even God, with potentially painful experiences and not being in control, is one of the hardest things that we as human beings face in life. We want to be in control. We trust ourselves sometimes more than we really should. This is the problem that the people of Israel had with Moses. Here they have found themselves in the wilderness of Sinai. This wilderness was a desert where there was intense heat during the day, very little in the way of food, and unless you were a Bedouin, access to water was scarce and they wouldn’t have known where and how to find it.
They trusted Moses when he was doing great things to bring about their freedom. But now they were free and there were new dangers they had to worry about. They became fearful and like all of us had trouble trusting their leader and the God they had barely come to know. Was this God going to bring them through safely; could they trust a God they could not see or interact with? Could they trust God enough to just relax and let God lead them? We experience these emotions and questions as well. Woodrow Kroll, a preacher and Christian radio host, reminds us, “If God was faithful to you yesterday, you have reason to trust him for tomorrow”. This is the message for today. This is the point of continuing to share the story of Moses bringing water from the stone.
By sharing together in this account, we are learning along with the Israelites that God leads us, God is with us, and God will never leave our sides. God was not going to let the people die in the wilderness from thirst. They could have relaxed into their new situations and just let God care for their needs, but they still struggled with that. So too we can trust that God has worked in our lives in the past and thus God will also care for our needs today and tomorrow. We need to come before God thirsty, hungry, and honestly open to the ways that he works in this world to remind us that he is here, he is present, and follows us ready to provide us with just what we need to sustain meaning in life. We can trust him.
But humanity fights God throughout our life journeys. We resist especially when life gets hard. There are times when it is easy to see God in the miracles we experience and those are the times when it is easy to have faith. But what about when life gets dark, loss sets in, our direction in life becomes blurry, this is when we tend to question God’s goodness, God’s presence, and God’s overarching love for us. C.H. Spurgeon wrote about just this in the 19th century, “To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust him in the dark – that is faith”. So trust in God, even when we can’t see or feel him, he is there. When we are hurting he is carrying us through. When we feel lost, hopeless, and confused, we are being guided. We learned in the Psalm reading, that Grace shared today, that God lead the people by a flame through the wilderness, and that he followed them with the stone to provide water as they journeyed. God was there even when fear set in and people couldn’t handle the changes they faced. When we, like the Israelites, ask “Is the Lord among us or not” remember the teachings in our scriptures. Remember the faith that you feel in the times of light in life and trust God for today and the future. Go forth and find little ways to put your trust in God today and throughout the week to come. Trust is a hard challenge but it promises to yield a deeper, more meaningful life for all of u.
 Woodrow Kroll, 21st century preachers and radio host.
 C.H. Spurgeon, 19th century AD English Baptist theologian.
 Exodus 17: 7, NRSV.
(Based on Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 and Exodus 17: 1-7)