(Used in an all-age worship service on the theme of "How to deal with disappointment." The story is based based on Exodus 15:22-27)
'Come on!' Benji called out to Deborah and Jake as he ran towards their tent.
'Slow down Benji! What's up?' asked Deborah.
'No time to explain now. Something's happening at the water hole. Hurry up!'
Benji and the children ran, but their jog soon turned to a walk as they headed across the desert valley towards the spring. The three day journey from the Red Sea had taken its toll on everyone. Each day they had searched for water in the scorching sun - the children, the old people, the animals - everyone. The excitement and joy of escaping the Egyptians - their amazement at seeing God hold back the sea - had quickly faded with each parched step. One by one their water bottles ran dry in the desert sun.
When the Israelites came close to Marah wonderful news had raced through the ranks - 'Water! Water in a spring up ahead!' Benji had run to see.
Quickly their hopes had been dashed. The water was bitterbrackish - impossible to drink.
'Yuck! Disgusting! It's awful!' the disappointed Benji told the others as they set up camp.
Panic quickly spread. 'What are we going to drink?' the people shouted at their leader Moses.
The children reached the waterhole and heard the booming voice of Moses echoing across the crowd. He was telling people to stop complaining and murmuring. Deborah and Jake pushed to the front to see what was happening.
Moses lifted his head in prayer and cried out to God. Then he picked up a dead branch from under a tree and hurled it into the centre of the bitter water.
'Splash!' A wave spread across the surface.
Moses said, "This is God's test. If you listen carefully to God's voice and keep all his laws, the Lord won't make you suffer diseases like the Egyptians. God says, "I am the Lord who heals you."'
Awesome! thought Benji.
Moses pointed to the water and told the people to drink. At first no one moved, then young Jake rushed forward and knelt down. He cupped the water to his mouth. He didn't spit out the bitter water; he just kept on drinking and drinking and drinking.
Suddenly he lifted his head and shouted to the crowd, 'It's sweet! It's good. You can drink the water. Try it - it's sweet!'
The crowd moved then - they rushed to the water - mums and dads helped the little ones to drink. Cheers spread like a wave across the campsite.
'Look what God has done!' Benji said. 'Who else could work wonders like this? We just have to keep listening to God's voice.'
And that wasn't all! Within a few days the Israelites travelled from Marah to Elim where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees.
Benji sat with his friends under a palm tree eating from a basketful of dates.
'Why didn't God just bring us straight to this place - there's so much water and even shady date trees?' Deborah asked.
'Perhaps God wanted us to learn about trusting Him for everything, even when we think he has let us down,' said Benji. He took a long drink of water.
'Ah yes - that's it. God makes bitter things sweet!'
© Don Stott www.eliab.com