‘Back to Egypt’
I Was Thinking…
Have you ever been greeted by the ‘Back to Egypt’ Committee? They are a fun group. Maybe you have even served on this illustrious team of well-intended people…I know I have served, and maybe even chaired, the committee on occasion.
The ‘Back to Egypt’ Committee, also known as the “Cold Water’ or ‘Ain’t No Way’ Committee is that group that greets us when we return from an event, a conference, a trip, or a retreat with excitement and commitment for change boiling in our veins. This well-intended committee unanimously says to us, through their lips and/or body language, “wait a minute…not so fast… we weren’t there, so we will be skeptics of your experience and/or newly gained information.” Have you ever met such an illustrious team of folks?
‘Back to Egypt’ refers to those who were delivered from the back-breaking slavery of the Pharoah in Egypt. They escaped through a miraculous parting of the Red Sea into freedom. Yet, it wasn’t long before they were whining and complaining to Moses that they would have been ‘better-off’ back in Egypt, or better yet “if only we had died in the land of Egypt” and thus a desire to go ‘back to Egypt’ (Exodus 16:1-3, NRSV).
I’m guessing they were feeling that there truly are ‘worse things than death’. Yet, even as the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron, God sent bread from heaven to satisfy their hunger. Later as they continued to complain, God’s miracle of water from the rock at Horeb quenched their thirst and Moses renamed the place Massah and Meribah “because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:1-7, NRSV)
I’m not an Israelite, but there are days I sure sound like one, how about you? Complaining and whining about this and that. Then, when someone else has an inspiring and uplifting experience, I become the resident skeptic.
It is taking me a while to learn that more times than not, God speaks to us through each other. Therefore, if I’m participating in the ‘Back to Egypt-Cold Water-Ain’t No Way’ Committee, then perhaps I am a participant in the squelching of the Holy Spirit. Maybe, just maybe, someone else’s ‘mountain top’ experience is exactly what God is sending my way.
Don’t misunderstand me at this point…it is important to ‘test the spirit’… ‘to verify the source’. However, those Israelites at times were more 'skeptic' than they were believers. They were more interested in leading than they were in following. They were equipping themselves to be expert ‘whine-buckets’ more than vessels of faith.
I pray I can be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and through another’s experience. Whether we are in Egypt, the wilderness, or on the mountaintop, God is among us. This I believe! Lord, help me in times of unbelief…maybe this is your prayer as well.
The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop