“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.’ Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” -Exodus 15:26-27
The Israelites were under persistent life-threatening pressure. Having left Egypt, they were being chased night and day by Pharaoh’s lethal army. He had reneged on his last promise to let the Israelites go after the demise of his own son and many, many other first sons. Now he was intent on bringing his Israelite slaves back to Egypt after first killing a number of them in oppressive retribution.
He finally caught them at the great Gulf of Aqaba, putting their backs to the sea where their only escape was through the midst of his fierce army – an impossible feat. Then God opened up a passage through the sea for the people’s escape, all the while protecting their vulnerable rear as He brought the sea crashing down on their Egyptian pursuers, utterly destroying Pharaoh’s army.
Immediately after overwhelming gratefulness to God for their miraculous deliverance came another test of their fickle faith as the bitter waters at Marah would not, could not satisfy their great thirst. Then, at the point of human breaking, God provided an oasis in the midst of this dry desert wilderness after so narrowly escaping Pharaoh’s clutches.
Myriad fresh water springs among numerous shady palm trees appeared in their path, the very splendor and definition of what constitutes a true oasis in a thoroughly parched land. At the most vital time, God gave rest, security, and the abundance of springs of fresh water to assuage their tremendous thirst, providing “salvation” in the midst of desperation.
Neither you nor I could survive the constant pressure of adversity without the occasional oasis of rest, security, and sustenance. We live in a fallen world. The thorns and weeds resulting from the Fall are indicative of so much more adversity: psychological pressures of guilt and sin, the harried persistence of making ends meet, keeping up with the demands of life, problems of relationships and jobs, putting “things” together, health, keeping up with the Joneses, and country and world problem worries. All contribute to pressures beyond the capacity to cope.
God did not create us with the ability or intent to live constantly on edge, minds running at breakneck speed, emotions persistently heightened, nerves continually intense, with no respite. We require oases of rest, oases of sleep, the rest of shutting mind and body down for recuperation. Too little sleep is health-threatening. Our bodies, mind, and souls require rest!
God has created us for sleep in each 24-hour period, and a day of rest for every week. It is built into our constitution. These are given oases. Vacations are a planned respite. Intermittent work breaks are healthy musts for continued productivity.
By example, Jesus taught you the necessity of disciplined time for prayer, worship of God, meditation in His Word, and spiritual “re-creation,” all for the refreshment of the soul. The physical body, the mind, and the soul are all integrated in the makeup of every person. Each part affects the health of the whole person because they are each irrevocably connected (Hebrews 4:12). Specific oases are needed for the refreshment of each part of the whole person. None can be ignored.
Oases are God’s part-provision for coping with life in this fallen world. He provides “the springs and palm tree moments” in which you can be refreshed for your continuing journey. Ask Him for refreshing sleep, even as you thank Him for it. Plan breaks for necessary recuperation. Discipline yourself for regular time of prayer, worship, and reading and meditating on God’s Word. These are the oases you really need, as do your loved ones!
“Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, and Thy beauty fills my soul, for by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole.”
(First verse of Jean Pigott’s hymn, “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” 1877)
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