Since I was little, I have always had a tendency to worry about the "what ifs" a little too much. For example, my brother still likes to tease me about the time when, at age 6, I was convinced that my parents were never coming home from the grocery store and we would probably starve. I don't remember this - but he says I went out to forage in the yard and collected leaves, grass, and buckeyes for us to eat "just in case."
This week's story from the Old Testament book of Exodus is pretty familiar for those like me who often live in the land of "just in case" and "what if."
Read Exodus 32: 1-14
Moses, who has led the Israelites from slavery and through the desert, has left the people and gone up on the mountains to talk to God. He's receiving the Ten Commandments and is gone for 40 days and 40 nights. While he's gone the people - already forgetting how far they've come under his leadership and all the times God has rescued them - start to freak out. If Moses doesn't come back who is going to lead them, and where is God, and who will they worship? I completely understand how this thought cycle get started. In their worry, with Aaron's help, they create something else to worship and put first.
Of course, Moses comes back. And the Bible say God is completely angry and frustrated that these people were so quick to jump off the bandwagon. But Moses goes to bat for the people with God and their interaction, their relationship, causes God to offer forgiveness to the people.
So here's what I am thinking. Of course this is a cautionary tale about worshiping false Idols and putting other things before God. But for me this week, it's reminding me to stop and check myself when the over thinking wheel begins to turn. To stop, wait, and to trust. God did not abandon Moses and the people in the desert.
God is always there and ready to offer grace, mercy, and forgiveness when we are ready to receive it. If I am too busy worrying about the "what ifs" and preparing for the worst-case scenarios I am going to miss what God is doing in the world and in my life right now. I am also reminded how important our personal relationship and dialogue with God truly is. It's through this relationship that Moses has with God that the people are forgiven and the Bible says God's mind is changed. I don't know how to unpack that last part - but I do know that this week I am working on slowing down and engaging with God through prayer.