When the Hebrews left Egypt to begin their difficult journey through the desert to the Promised Land, they brought "the rabble" with them. These were not true believers in this journey or in the God who called them to it. The rabble's toleration for discomfort was low and their capacity for complaint was high, always an unfortunate combination.
All the pastors I know would love to get rid of the rabble in their church. The dopey thing is that the rabble keep threatening to leave if we don't service their needs. "If you don't get a better youth pastor in here, we'll just go to another church." Why do they think that's threatening? "So go," I want to say. But the rabble never leave.
There is a holy purpose for the rabble. Their complaining places the pastor in the awkward position of standing between the people and the God they cannot see. The grace of that awkwardness is that it forces the pastor to pray, looking for the One who is present but not apparent.
Through most of the wilderness ...1
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