Making My Golden Calf

I would have had a really bad attitude if I was an Isrealite.  I would have been one of the first people smacking on the flap of Moses’s tent demanding answers about water and food and when we were finally going to get that supposed place of milk and honey that we’d heard all about it. 

I’d be able to see the pillar of cloud in the sky, and I could watch the toddler in the tent next door eating mannah. I might have even watched Moses slam him staff into a rock and bring forth water.  Still, though, I’d probably want more proof.

And by proof, I mean ease.

When I find myself calling out to God for proof of God’s love for me, what I’m actually asking for most days is ease. More money so I don’t have to budget so carefully. More time so that I can waste more of it on Facebook. Less sacrifice on my part.  I want life to be easier.

See I know the whole story. I know that over and over again I have been cared for. Over and over again, just the right amount of money has come in. Just the right friend has called. Just the right opportunity has arisen or passed into other hands. Over and over, I am loved. Tangibly and with more grace than I could ever imagine. 


When we talk about the Isrealites in the wilderness, we focus on the big stuff – the parting of the Red Sea, the first day of mannah, that big pillar in the sky.  But sometimes we miss two big things – the dailiness of God’s provision and the construction of a place for God’s physical presence in the midst of this wandering.

Every day, God gave these wanderers mannah.  Every single day (except Sundays, but that’s okay because the day before they gathered extra, so on Sundays, it was bonus – free food and no work to get it).  Every day, God put that big cloud in the sky, and every night, the sky flamed so that they had a physical mark of God’s guidance.

Yet, still, they whined.

Then, God calls them to Sinai. They gather at the bottom of the mountain – AFTER HAVING HEARD THE VOICE OF GOD – and they wait for Moses to return from his facetime with the Creator.

While he’s up on that mountain, God gives Moses specific directions – down to the exact measurements, the colors to be used in the tapestries, and the need for anatomical correctness in the flowers molded into the gold lampstands – for how to build God’s special dwelling place.  God cares so much that he gives them not a vague suggestion – “Okay, so build me a place to come hang out.” – but a specific plan for God’s dwelling so that they can follow directions AND use their creativity (those tapestries needed to have cherubim on them, but God let the master weavers figure out the design).  God knows what the people need.

Yet, down there at the bottom of that mountain, they’re melting down the gold they need for the ark and making a cow.  A cow! (Who worships a cow?)  They can’t even wait for Moses to come back with instructions before they try to make it easier for themselves.

If we just make an idol like our neighbors, we’ll get along better and maybe, who knows?, this cow could even give us stuff. 


See, I would be the one worshiping a cow.  I do it all the time. Every day, I find myself looking for a way to take back control instead of waiting.  I want life to be easy. Maybe I should go back to teaching. Maybe I can get a job in a bookstore. Maybe . . . maybe . . . maybe.  But I know full well that easy isn’t the point.  Obedience is.

And when I obey, I get the great stuff – not just daily bread and pillars in the sky – but gold in the shape of a farm and work and dreams come true.

Maybe even a real live cow.

When do you find yourself wishing life was easier?


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  • Pilar Arsenec

    That is a loaded question my friend. I real loaded question. :)

    • Andi

      It is a tough one, huh, my friend.

  • http://www.MikeLoomis.CO Mike Loomis

    Yikes – I hadn’t thought of “ease” as the name of my cow – it’s been called “security” for so long. Well said!!

    • Andi

      Thanks, Mike. Yeah, “security” is another one we use, huh?

  • Teresa

    Wow, wow, wow. This article really hit home for me today!! GREAT stuff!

    • Andi

      Thanks, Teresa. Glad what I said had meaning for you. Thanks for reading.

  • Jesse Moore

    Wow. Thanks for that, Andi. A very thought provoking post. I needed it.

    • Andi

      Thanks, Jesse. . . and by the way, right now, Meander is wrapped up like a puppy burrito. . . that girl likes her warmth.

  • Christine Niles

    My cow’s name is “control.” I think I need to take her over to the butcher and grill her up for dinner. (sorry to all the vegetarians…..)

    • Andi

      Yes, my cow’s name used to be “control.” I beat that one back into ore. Now, I’m trying to pound down “ease.” I so get it.

  • Shannon M. Howell

    I hadn’t ever thought of it that way.

    I think of those “maybe” moments as G-d’s gift. I think (and this is just me) that G-d gave us minds to think and question with. So, I think and question. I think that when I use my mind to the best of my ability, I am honoring the ability G-d gave me.

    Usually, I end up right where I was anyway, but I still undergo the mental exercise.

    That said, there’s that “gut feeling” that can’t be ignored either. It makes no sense but still we *have* to do it. That, to me, is also G-d… this time giving me a big old yank in the right direction.

    As for when do I find myself wishing life were easier… I’m not really sure. I certainly wish there was less physical pain, and fewer mundane & repetitive tasks, but I don’t recall wanting “easier.” Happier, maybe, but not easier. Then again, I also have definitive proof that my brain is abnormal, so go figure I’d be odd on something like this. :)

    An interesting side point (and I only bring it up because I think you might find it interesting). What you wrote, Andi, was very well done, but I nearly derailed when you wrote about not getting manna on Sunday. I was completely confused for a minute. In Judaism, the Sabbath falls on Saturday, and since you were talking about Israelites, it took me a minute to make that mental jump (during which time, I was thinking, “What part did I miss where G-d said you don’t get to eat on Sunday?!”).

    • Andi

      Thanks for that thoughtful comment, Shannon. I have no problem with doubt – mine or anyone else’s. It’s hard to maintain faith in something we cannot see. But when we make our doubt seem more righteous by claiming we need more, I think that’s where we run into problems because, at least for me, it’s not usually about doubt – it’s about my own selfishness.

      And great thought about the Jewishness of the Isrealites – so true, and it just shows my Christocentric view, huh? And maybe not in a good way.

      • Shannon M. Howell

        Interesting. I wasn’t thinking of “questioning” in terms of “doubt” but in terms of questions like, “what should I do?” or, “which path should I take.”

        Of course, faith is a big part of many of those decisions, but I like to think that faith is a bit of a two-way street. G-d gave us minds & free will, and had faith that we’d use them well & have faith in G-d.

        As for the “Christocentric” thing, I would argue it *is* in a good way. You are not dismissive, negative, or derisive. You are in the world you are in… and that is a place that is deeply inside your faith. What you wrote is a natural extension of that.

        If you look at a crayon and it looks red to you, it’s natural not to think twice that it looks red to everyone else. It’s not a bad thing, it is just a sign of who you are and where you’re at (trust me, if it wasn’t in a “good way” I wouldn’t be planning on schlepping my kids out to help dig a garden!). :)

        That reminds me, do you think you could crochet a kippah (yarmulke)?

        • Andi

          What a beautifully kind response, Shannon. Thank you. And yes, I can crochet a kippah . . . any color or combination of colors that you’d like. Just let me know, and I can put one (or some) together for you. I’d be honored.

  • Eileen

    I have seen myself reacting like Isrealites so many times. We are quick to cling to the wrong things to help sustain us.

    • Andi

      Indeed, Eileen. Indeed we do.