Water. It gives us life physically and emotionally. No secret that we need water to stay alive even if the ‘proper’ amount is debated. We need water more than food, even. And if you’re a beach kind of person or a mountain stream kind of person, water can have a tremendous healing effect emotionally as you listen to the waves breaking on the shoreline or the stream running to the river.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/249704-water-essential-to-life.mp3]
Most importantly, water is essential to our spiritual life. We can be challenged physically and still have a healthy emotional and spiritual life. It may take some work but it isn’t uncommon. We can be chewed up emotionally and still remain healthy physically and spiritually healthy. This isn’t uncommon at all. Most of us have experienced physical or emotional and sometimes physical AND emotional problems and remained spiritually solid.
But remove the spiritual health and it’s a problem for both physical and emotional health. I’m not talking about spiritual perfection like that’s a goal. Or even possible. But when we fail short in our spiritual lives it inevitably hurts our physical and emotional selves.
Water, it really is essential to life.
Tonight’s story from Exodus is a big water story and has a great plot twist in it. Moses is once again saved by water and all those with him. Earlier in Exodus Moses, as a baby, had been put into the river, into the water, in a basket to save him from Pharaoh’s decree that all young sons of the Hebrew slaves should be drowned. His mom didn’t think much of Pharaoh’s decree and so trusted Moses’ life to the water. She puts him in a basket and launches him into the river.
Of course, and very ironically, it is Pharaoh’s daughter that finds Moses floating in a basket and raises him as her own. Moses has a couple of adventures here and there as an Egyptian prince and as a Hebrew slave and ultimately ends up being the one who is sent to Pharaoh to free all the Hebrew slaves. This he does and they newly freed slaves take off across the desert.
So far so good. Until Pharaoh thinks differently of his action to free the slaves and takes off after them with his army to bring them back. Or worse.
Now? Water once again comes into the story because it is water that saves Moses and all the Hebrew people as they make their escape from slavery under Pharaoh’s iron fist. As a child, Moses was threatened with drowning and now as an adult he leads the Hebrew people out of slavery.
Of course, and very ironically, the plot twist is that the entire Egyptian army is drowned.
Water has once again saved Moses and also the people with him.
Water, it really is essential to life.
Unless you’re Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. For them, not so much. But here’s our takeaway from that story. The Egyptians were likely emotionally healthy and certainly more that physically healthy. But they had a problem spiritually. Not because they worshipped a God other than Yahweh, though perhaps that comes into play indirectly, but because they were focused on power and wealth at the expense of others. Power and wealth was their goal instead of caring about other people and when power and wealth become our goals, instead of the result of working hard, then our spiritual life gets off track.
And it doesn’t work out for us, emotionally, physically or both. Not that God is going to come down and drown us literally but we do drown in our pursuit of power and wealth.
It doesn’t have to be or stay that way. A few thousand years later, along comes John. John the Baptist. He has some ideas about the importance of water as well. John wields his water baptism with repentance but is announcing the one who will come wielding water with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Things are getting exciting.
It would be easier if baptism meant we say we’re sorry for our sins and then move on. That’s kind of what John the Baptist has been up to. But like he says, there is more to it than that. Much more. We are spiritually transformed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of baptism and then spend a lot of our physical and emotional energy tamping that transformation down, don’t we?
Our transformation in baptism is the simiplest thing in the world and our transformation in baptism is the hardest thing in the world. We’re made a new creation in the waters of baptism and with few exceptions we spend a lot of our life ignoring or avoiding the transformation.
But since John says that the Holy Spirit comes into us, that’s a good place to start. That’s an uncomfortable place to start for most of us. How do we know the Holy Spirit is working in us and it isn’t just a crazy idea, the Rice Krispies talking or indigestion? The key is two fold. Pay attention to what’s in the Bible, and what isn’t, and