“[Moses] cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” NRSV
The Hebrew people were in a dilemma – hiking about in the wilderness for three days and discovering the only available water was bitter and unfit for human consumption. The people complained against Moses, their leader. Still living in optimal conversation with God, God presents him with a stick that sweetens the water and relieves their thirst. Disaster avoided with prayer and a simple solution.
Would that all life’s problems were so simple to solve! But wait! Notice that prayer did not remove them from the wilderness. They’re still right where they were with a looooonnnnggg journey ahead of them. Prayer did not fast forward them into a better future. There was still much work to be done.
Is that not still true? Each of us is on a course through this wilderness called life. Sometimes our path presents us with bitter water not fit to drink. Prayer, however, has the miraculous ability to sweeten the bitter stuff and if not make it delectable, at least potable.
God who sweetens the water, my prayer is that I listen to my own preaching and be an example of the sweetness that follows conversation with you, whether shouting amid fire and smoke, a whisper from the depths of desperation, or a joyous dance just to be alive in your presence. So be it.
— Pastor Fay Ann Blaylock, Zion United Church of Christ and First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)