by Sheri Schofield
Last week, while scouting the mountains for new flowers, I spotted white irises growing in the middle of a wetland. Dressed in shorts, a summer shirt, and flip-flops, I’d come prepared to explore and take photos. So I parked the car and headed into the meadow. There was a stream running through the grass. I stepped into it and sank further than I’d expected. I suddenly found myself splashed liberally to the waist with muddy water that looked suspiciously like it was laced with cow manure. Hmm. Oh well, I thought. I have a plastic grocery bag. I can sit on it in the car until I’m finished hunting flowers. Why, I’m just getting started!
Interesting fact: Did you know that cow manure, if not removed from the skin in a timely manner, can cause a rash?
Let me tell you about a group of people who were liberally splashed with a form of spiritual manure which they did not wash off. It was the people of Israel after Moses rescued them from slavery in Egypt. God rescued them from Pharaoh through a spectacular demonstration of his power, sending plagues on Egypt until they released Israel from bondage. Shortly after their release, Pharaoh chased after them with his army, corralling them at the Red Sea.
The Israelis were terrified. “Moses! Why did you bring us out here to die? We could have stayed in Egypt and lived!” they complained.
But God had a plan. He divided the Red Sea, dried the earth with a wind, and had Moses lead them across to safety. When Pharaoh’s army chased after them, God brought the waters down on the Egyptian warriors in a spectacular crash and destroyed them.
You would think this would make a seriously gigantic impression on the Israelites! It did. For three whole days. Then they came to water in the desert, only to find it was bitter. Again, they whined and complained against Moses. Moses said, “You are complaining against God, not me.” God used Moses to miraculously fix the water, so they could drink it.
But the complaining was not over. It lasted forty days, all the way to Canaan, the land God had promised them. Moses sent spies into the land, and they came back with reports of great abundance. But there were also giants in the land, and they advised Israel not to try to enter; all except Caleb and Joshua, the spies who called on Israel to believe God.
Response? The Israelis tried to stone Moses and Aaron! God responded to their refusal to trust Him by making Israel wander in the wilderness for forty years until every adult from that generation, except for Caleb and Joshua were dead.*
Paul wrote, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:19-23 NIV).
“Dissensions” and “factions” are synonyms for complaining, both against God and each other. A complaining spirit is a pollutant, like cow manure. It is a spirit of slavery. A spirit of trust will bring God’s blessings to our lives and wellness to our souls.
Hold onto the wonderful gifts God gives through the Holy Spirit! We must guard our hearts against complaining, and take a warning from Israel’s failure. Hold onto God’s joy!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7 NIV
*These stories can be found in Exodus 4-15 and Numbers 13 & 14.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.
Her first book on salvation, “The Prince and the Plan”, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, “God? Where Are You?,” tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read.
Join the conversation: What spiritual pollutant do you need to wash off?