4. Look to God
In our exhaustion and need, God calls us to look to him for life-sustaining power.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. Then he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” -Exodus 17:5-7
“Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.” These words were written in a diary by a woman named Lilias during the early 1900’s. Lilias had just finished up a very long and hard year of work and was recharging on a vacation with friends. She had sought out a quiet place to be alone and reflect when she noticed something. She wrote in her diary, “It was just a dandelion, & half-withered – but it was full face to the sun, & had caught into its heart all the glory it could hold.”
Exhausted, weak, and running on empty, Lilias saw a picture of herself in this half-withered flower. But Lilias was inspired by the fact that the flower had turned to the sun, absorbing its rays to restore its life. This picture reminded her that in her exhaustion, she had only to turn her face to God, soaking in his love and life.
In Exodus, the Israelites find themselves in a similar state as Lilias. In their journey through the desert to the Promised Land, they are without water. However, unlike Lilias, they do not look to God in their exhaustion and despair. Instead, they complain to and attack their leader Moses. They even question whether God is really with them!
In response to the people’s complaints, Moses turns to God for help. God leads Moses to a rock and tells him to strike it with his staff, the same staff that brought plagues of judgment upon Egypt. When Moses does so, water flows out of the rock, and the people are provided for.
From this story, we learn that in our exhaustion and need, all we must do is look to God. Like God’s people in Exodus, we often sin by putting God to the test. “Prove you’re really with us by making our difficult circumstances go away,” we demand from God. God responded to the Israelites’ sin by graciously providing them with life-giving water. And God responds to our sin by mercifully giving us life in Christ.
Just as the rock in Exodus was struck with Moses’s staff, the staff that was a vessel of judgment, so Jesus was struck with God’s judgment. Jesus died for our sin, our sin of questioning God and putting him to the test. And he did so that we might receive mercy, that we might receive life.
In light of this provision, we can continue looking to Christ for life. When we are drained by school, work or parenting, we can look to God who sustains us. When we are fighting battles in relational conflicts, physical illnesses, or unemployment, we can look to God for direction and strength. God won’t always answer our prayers in exactly the ways we asked, but he knows exactly what we need.
The hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" was inspired the quote in Lilia's journal, and it reminds us of these truths with its chorus, singing:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace”