“They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness – a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’…My people have done two evil things: they have abandoned me – the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.”
He is not the God of the easy way. Not of straightforward paths, convenient circumstances and undisturbed comfort.
No one traveled the wilderness. But He led thousands through it, with elderly, women, and children among them.
He is not the God of the boring.
He is the fountain of living water. He can lead his people into barren places because He is able to meet all their needs there. He is not a well with only so much to go around, but an ever-replenishing fountain that can always offer more when more is needed.
He is not a good fairy that would always buffer and lead away from danger. Not a God who depends on good circumstances to keep his people safe, but a Maker of warriors that plunges right into the darkness and fights for and alongside His people.
He is not what I expect.
He is not what Israel expected. He is glorious, and they wanted wood. Boundless, but they wanted someone they could understand. Almighty, but they wanted something they could control.
And so, while those who worshiped false gods held fiercely loyal to their empty symbols of protection, Israel turned away from the One who had led them through wastelands no one survived, out of slavery no one escaped, into promise no one imagined.
To broken cisterns. To figures of wood that did not speak to them or lead them anywhere or perform any wonders. Useless, empty wells.
And I turn, too. Because I, too, want something I can understand, control, summon. I don’t like being led into danger. I become lazy and start to prefer comfort to wonder. I let my soul go dry.
But I was made to seek a living fountain – to thirst and keep drinking, to face danger, to feel wonder, to follow, not totally understanding, to believe for promises still ahead, unseen, out-of-reach.
This is what a life of walking with you looks like. Teach me not to grow tired and turn. The wells stay put, but they are empty. You are moving, challenging, beckoning me forward: into difficulty, through fear, toward the barren. But you are life, so I will follow. Anything else is a pale, dry substitute to a dehydrated soul.
So teach me not to exchange you, not to grow frustrated and abandon you, not to listen to my fear and shrink back.
Teach me to follow close, eager, breathless. It’s terrifying, but you are a faithful leader.