Friday, February 19, 2021

Those Red Sea Moments

Recently as I was reading Leviticus, I was reminded of some really cool things. First, I noticed that as Israel was fleeing from Pharaoh, they were not haphazardly fleeing in a random direction just to get away from the Egyptian leader and his army. With every step they took, Israel was being led by God in a specific direction for a specific reason. Leviticus 13:18a says, But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Then Lev. 14:1-4 gives us even more information, Then the Lord said to Moses, "Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, "they are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in." And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.

I had not read Leviticus in awhile and I had forgotten some of the details of this story. As I reread this chapter in particular I realized I had mistakenly formed a vision of Israel fleeing, wandering aimlessly, and getting trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, leaving God in the position to have to step in and rescue them. For some reason I remembered verse four where God told Moses He would be glorified, but I had forgotten the verses that described God purposefully leading them to the Red Sea and putting them into what looked like a hopeless situation. The Scriptures tell us that when the people of Israel saw the Egyptians approaching they were fearful and cried out to Moses, telling him that they wished he would have left them alone in Egypt as it would have been better for them to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.

Moses told them not to be afraid because they were going to see the salvation of the Lord that day. He also told them they didn't have to do anything as God, Himself, was going to fight for them. All they had to do was be quiet and behold the Lord's work. The Lord then instructed Moses to lift up his staff and stretch his hand out over the sea and when Moses did, the water divided and Israel was able to cross through the Sea on dry land. The Egyptian army pursued them and at just the right time the Lord closed the sea and drowning the army. As I read this story, I realized when I have faced hard things, I had at times doubted my ability to follow God. I at times took the hard to mean I had failed, that something in my life was wrong and caused me to deserve the hard, or that I had misheard or misunderstood God's leading. 

As a newly growing believer, I remember having a conversation about my struggle with sin as a believer with a pastor. He reminded me of God's grace and mercy encouraged me to keep short accounts. By that he meant that when I sinned, I was not to run from God and wallow in shame, but to run towards Him in faith, confessing my sin and praising Him for His forgiveness and HIs grace. If I was doing that, I realized the hard isn't about punishing me for sin. In addition, if I remember the hard I experience is filtered through God's loving sovereignty then the hard is about strengthening my faith by giving me an opportunity to learn about God watch Him work on my behalf. And, because there is no hard that is too difficult for God, I can be sure that the hard is about God having the opportunity to display His glory in ways that I can't even imagine. 

I have had a few "Red Sea" moments in my life, where I knew I was totally powerless and the only place I could look for help was up. Sometimes the moments were relational where conflicts were unending and could not be resolved. Sometimes they were within the work place when jobs were threatened and bosses were abusive. Sometimes they were health issues like being housebound with a severely broken ankle for a year, severe asthma attacks our son experienced as a little guy, the surgery and complications that occurred when our son's spleen ruptured, our granddaughter's three month premature birth, and my mother being put on hospice three states away as I was recovering from a broken knee. 

I can't help but think of things that others have faced that seem like they would be "Red Sea" moments. Maybe it was persistent infertility, multiple bouts with cancer, losing a spouse, children who walked away from their faith, abuses of all kinds, betrayal by someone we thought we could trust, or being rejected by those in the body that we thought we could trust. 

I hope when we are experiencing the hard and feeling pressed in on all sides that we will remember the Israelites plight as the Red Sea lie in front of them and the Egyptian army closed in from behind. What looked like an impossible situation wasn't an impossibility for God. It was an opportunity to show both the Israelites and the Egyptians army that Israel was God's chosen people and that He went to great lengths to reveal Himself to them as their protector, provider, and salvation. I hope we will lean into Him and in faith ask Him to display His power and His strength in the hard. I hope that in the hard we will be so focused on Him that we won't miss seeing His work and His glory on display. 

Can I encourage you to think back on you life and identify "Red Sea" moments that you have experienced. Take time to notice how God intervened and reminded you that you were chosen. What did He reveal about Himself? Ask Him to show you what He was doing through the hard. We would do well to remember that God 's glory shines the brightest in what seems like the darkest and most impossible situations. When the hard comes, consider them a "Red Sea Moment" and remember our God is good. Let's run towards Him and behold His glory.   

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!