Drinking God’s Sweet Water In Flint, Michigan

This morning I am writing to you from Flint, Michigan.

  • No other town in America has been more besieged,
  • No other town in American has been more aggrieved,
  • No other town in America has more promise

In the in the deadly bittiness of the manmade water disaster which is Flint.  God will produce sweet water for the people to drink.

Water is one of God’s most important creations.

  • Water – Covers 71 percent of the Earth’s Surface.
  • Water – Makes up more than 60 percent of our bodies
  • Water – Is fundamental to life. A human can survive for a month or more without eating food, but only a week without drinking water.

Water not only sustains our bodies and communities, but is essential our spiritual lives.

With nearly 900 reference the Bible is rich with images:

  • Of Water Bringing New Life
  • Of Water Cleansing the Uncleaned
  • Of Water Being Used To Fulfill God’s Promises

In looking at the situation here in Flint where between 6,000 and 12,000 children are now at high risk for a lifetime of serious health problems due to exposure to drinking water with high levels of lead. I cannot help but think about the situation in Exodus 15:22-27.

After God used Moses to part the waters of the Red Sea making a way out of no way for the people of Israel, he directed Moses to lead the — into the desert as they left 430 years of slavery in Egypt for freedom in the promise land.

For three days the Israelites when without water as they could not find any in the desert.  Finally they found water but their hopes for relief were dashed when they found that the water was bitter and undrinkable.

The Israelites who had just three days earlier saw God’s might as He parted the huge Red sea. Revealed their lack of faith in God as they questioned His power at the small pond that they named “Marah”, which means “bitterness.”

Moses instead of complaining like the Israelites cried out in faith to God.  In response the Lord showed Moses a piece of wood with a command to throw it into the water.

Immediately the water was made sweet and the Israelites were able to drink it.  Then Moses then led them to a place called Elim which had twelve springs of drinkable water.

While at Elim God issues this command to the Israelites

“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.”

Having seen firsthand the plagues that God brought down on the Egyptians along with the parting of the waters at the Red Sea along with the conversion of the bitter waters at Marah this was indeed a powerful command.

However, despite the evidence right before them of God’s power, goodness, and grace.  The Israelites failed to follow this command and instead spent 40 years wondering in the desert before entering into the promise land.

As Flint emerges and transforms from the water disaster. Let’s examine three practical applications from Exodus 15:22-27 as we all recover from the bitter waters that invade our lives.

1.God wants us to experience an internal transformation

The story in Exodus 15:22-27 is about the journey from Marah to Elim, from bitter water to twelve springs and seventy palm trees. The journey takes place externally and internally.

The external journey is the obvious one. Moses and company find themselves in a very bitter situation. They have been three days in the desert without coming upon a source of water.

The water they have come to is undrinkable. Death is threatening. Moses cried out to God and God made the bitter water sweet. Refreshing themselves, they are revived and journey on to Elim.

However, the internal journey is less obvious, but it is the key notion for the entire text.

When Moses cast wood into the bitter water, the water became sweet.  However, the casting of the wood was not for water, but for people.

God wants to transform us from a bitter ungrateful, uncaring people. Into a people who have His internal grace, peace and love. For it is that internal transformation that will allow us to overcome any external trials, tribulations and troubles that we will encounter.

If the people of Flint will allow it God will use the water disaster to be more that about the water.  He will use it to transform the people to overcome the name calling and finger pointing to bring a new life to the people of Flint transforming the city into a shining example of the power of God.

2.God Will Transform The Bitter To The Sweet

The message of Exodus 15:22-27 is clear: Whatever bitter obstacles we encounter we can count on God to transform them, to use and redeem them for good.

The water disaster brought me to Flint however, it is the people of Flint and those that have come to Flint that will bring me back.

  • People like the elementary school teacher who has her students express themselves in water color to help them cope with effects of the bad water in their community.
  • People like the Pastor from an affluent community in Mississippi who made Flint his mission field. Providing both the bottle water of Aquafina and the living water of the Word to the people of Flint.
  • People like the 100 Black Men of Jacksonville, Florida who have funded the replacement of contaminated lead pipes in nearly 100 homes in Flint.

God is big enough to deal with and redeem any situation.  He is using people in Flint like Moses used the wood at Marah to transform the bitter to the sweet.

3. God Will Transform Our Faith

 Regardless of how it happened or who is to blame the water disaster in Flint marks a time of off testing.

However, God knows that it is through testing that our faith is transformed from being just a concept, or a nice thing to do, or what is expected of me to a real, tangible and strong entity. Capable of being a vessel for the full armor of God’s power, grace and love.

In Exodus 15:22-27:

What was the Israelites reaction to the bitter water?

They complained, grumbled and questioned the power of the very God who they had seen just 3 days earlier part the mighty Red Sea.

How did the bitter water become sweet?

It was through the faithful actions of Moses a servant of God whose faith has been tested. And because Moses has been tested he knew to cry out to God for a solution in a time of testing.

In Flint:

How did the water become bitter?

Through the actions of man

How will the water become sweet again?

The water will only become truly sweet again through God

Testing has come for the people of Flint, and testing will come for all of us.  However, the key to overcome testing is to lead a God-Centered Life.

God’s Word in Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “To trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; and in all your ways submit to him.

Final Thoughts: Drinking God’s Sweet Water In Flint

It was my pleasure to drink the sweet water in Flint. Because the sweet water in Flint has never left.

For the faithful people in Flint are drinking the sweet living water of God.

John 4:14 tells us: “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

God bless the good people of Flint and may they always drink of your sweet water.




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