It happened again today. It was one of those moments of interaction with a very personal, intimate God. The timing was absolutely perfect. I am a couple of days behind in my Chronological Bible so this morning before church, I was reading February 5. This section was about the last plagues before Pharoah let the Israelites go.
While at church, I began to sink down a little bit as I pondered what was before me. I spent last year in preparation of setting some goals for myself that are so far out of my reach it is not even funny. I began making decisions and commitments that would foster reaching those goals if the Lord chooses. The goals were God-given I believe and working toward them was an act of obedience on my part more than anything.
Striving toward these goals stretches me far and above anything else I have tried. It means I am making myself so vulnerable and exposed that it frightens me. As I enter 2016 and inch closer to either realizing these dreams or seeing them dashed, I am feeling the tension. This will be either the biggest waste of time or the greatest thing I have ever done. “Great” because it is beyond my capability, and I, of all people, know this full well!
As I sat there by myself ( my husband was at home sick), I began to sink deep into the fear of it all. I thought to myself, “I am afraid if it succeeds AND I am afraid if it fails!” What a place to be?! I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I go forward, I fear. If I have to turn back, I fear. I am literally afraid no matter what happens!!
This is the craziest, most dangerous place I have ever found myself. Why dangerous? Because I am risking so much! I am risking the unknown if I succeed and I am risking the known of failure and going back. I am completely out on the very tip of a branch and utterly in need of a great deliverance. I need God in a big way because I am feeling paralyzed, like when you are so scared of something that you can’t even scream.
That is when it hits me. I feel like the newly freed Israelites at the Red Sea. They find themselves looking ahead at an impossible sea to cross and looking back at the Egyptians hot on their trail and closing in. They are afraid to go forward and afraid to go back!
As soon as I get home from church, I run to my Bible to see when that part of Scripture comes up in my daily readings and by God’s grace to me, it is the very next day’s reading! He knew the timing of it all as I sat there in church spiraling downward in fear. He knew I was feeling just like the Israelites! Incapable and utterly deficient! I was just as “caught” as they were. I could not go forward and I could not overcome the battle facing me. So needless to say, I began reading the story that was wonderfully familiar.
I found myself encouraged and strengthened even more as I read because I was reminded of the intentional positioning of the Israelites by God. In Exodus 14:1-4, I see God placing Moses and the Israelites purposefully in between the Red Sea and the angry Egyptians coming after them. He hemmed them in on purpose!
It seems God placed them between the vast sea and the mighty army for a reason. It was not an unfortunate accident. It was an intentional decision by a loving, protective Father. He was setting them up for something greater than a miraculous rescue. Jehovah wanted them to learn the power and potential of unwavering faith!
As the Israelites cry out to the LORD at the terrifying situation, Moses tells them to stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will bring them. He goes on to say in Exodus 14:10-14 that the LORD will fight for them and they only need to stand still.
This seems like a wonderfully reassuring word to hear and plan of action. But God has something different to say to them. He tells them to “move on“!
Why?? Why would He say to move on when there is a big, fat sea in front of them?! Because of who they are that’s why! They were positioned and they were also perfectly prepared for what lay before them as children of God. Their identity prepared them beyond any skill or provision of a normal army. They did not need weapons of war just as a king’s son does not need a job. There would be times to fight with weapons later in their journey to the promise land, but this day, with their first desperate situation at hand, God wanted to give them something more than just a victory in battle.
Romans 8:14-15 says, “… because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father’.” So God expected the Israelites to act as though they were the children of God that they were. They were to have every confidence that their Heavenly Father would take care of what threatened and hindered their way, providing exactly what they needed, when they needed it. They may not have felt equipped and up to the task of God’s call, but they most certainly were! They were to move on in the faith rightly bestowed on sons and daughters of the Mightiest of Kings.
God had a plan for each group of people. He was about to gain glory through Pharoah as He parted the Red Sea and drown them as they tried to cross. He was also going to accomplish a second purpose by teaching His children unwavering faith as they walked through safely.
But something else happened that day. Something very personal and intimate that had the potential to impact generations to come. When the Israelites walked through to the other side, they came out different from when they went in. They came out with a testimony! God drowned more than the Egyptians that day. He drowned the Israelites’ fear! They may have faced the Red Sea feeling deficient and ill-equipped, but they crossed over fully able in the power and might of their LORD!
I am reminded of one of my favorite songs by Bethel Music, “No Longer Slaves”. It is a powerful song of encouragement in our fight against fear. The chorus says, “You split the sea so I could walk right through it. You drowned my fear in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing. I am a child of God!”
Don’t you know the Israelites sang that day?! I look forward to tomorrow’s reading already:)
So as I am reminded of all this glorious truth from the Lord when I feel afraid to succeed and afraid to fail, I will remember the impossible obstacle of the Red Sea, and the powerful testimony waiting for me on the other side. I am a child of God!
What about you? What has you feeling “caught” or overwhelmed by what lay ahead? Are you feeling deficient for how the Lord is calling you out in faith, to follow where He leads? You don’t have to experience the pursuit of an angry army to know what it is to be a slave to fear. He split the sea for you too. Move on in the confidence that sonship brings. And be ready to sing when you get to the other side!