I Bet You Can’t…
Kids, boys especially, are always trying to outdo one another. The need to prove one’s worthiness through some feat of strength or courage seems to transcend time. Phrases like, “I bet you can’t…” followed by some challenge flow from the lips of boys the world over, I’m sure of it.
I never participated in these exploits. I wasn’t particularly strong or courageous as a child. I do remember witnessing these scenarios, though. The need to prove one’s self only grows stronger as children move into adolescence. As a youth pastor, it seems that one of my main objectives while on retreats and the like is to stop these ill-conceived spectacles of testosterone induced activity.
What always gets me is the way in which these types of situations escalate. It doesn’t matter if a boy finishes one feat of strength, another will be required of him until he finally fails. The whole endeavor is to prove someone’s breaking point, either in spirit or in body!
It strikes me that this is Israel’s attitude while they were in the wilderness directly after the Exodus. They’ve just witnessed God delivering 10 plagues against Egypt, a giant pillar of fire and cloud of smoke, and the parting of the Red Sea. That’s not to mention the fact that every morning it rained bread for them to pick up off the ground and eat. Oh, and God made water come out of a rock, too.
I know that it wasn’t Israel’s intention to provoke God. They weren’t trying to see how far he would go. But, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” sounds an awful lot like, “I bet you can’t….” After all the things that God had already done for Israel, they wonder if he’s able to do something? Incredible!
Do we do the same thing today? Probably. Just like Israel, it’s easy to forget the wonderful things that God has done for us. Or maybe we begin to think that since God once did this spectacular thing, that maybe he’ll do something bigger and better for me?
Either way, the only appropriate response to the miraculous and the mundane works of God is thanksgiving. When we realize that the good in our life is from God, we’ll be filled with gratitude, and we won’t be tempted to say, “I bet you can’t…” because we’ll know that regardless of the situation, God will provide for our needs. After all, God isn’t some adolescent boy who needs to prove his strength. He’s a gentle and caring Father who longs to provide good things for his children.
Prayer: Oh God, help us to receive what you give us with glad and grateful hearts. Help us to rest in your care for us. Amen.