I’ve felt a bit like an Israelite this week. That’s definitely a weird statement to make but let me explain.
First, I don’t know if you have ever had the experience where a word, phrase or verse keeps popping up and it takes like the tenth time of seeing it before you really SEE it – but that is exactly what is happening to me this week. I said “Okay God I get it!” and then I started to pay attention.
The verses that keep popping up for me this week are Exodus 14:13-14: “Moses answered the people, do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see what the deliverance of the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”
I saw these verses first in a book I was reading, then I was having a rough Monday, so I opened the envelope my mom gave me that read “open when you are doubting yourself” and these verses were written out on index cards AND THEN I was going back through some of my old notes and there they were written out on November 2, 2016.
So now you have a bit of context and I can explain to you why I relate so much to these verses right now. The Israelites had just been set free from the Egyptians, Pharoah finally had let them go. They could taste the freedom, relief, joy, excitement when suddenly they saw behind them that Pharoah had changed his mind. They were being chased down by the Egyptians! They probably began to walk with bit more vigor in their step only to see that in front of them was the Red Sea so there was nowhere for them to turn. Their freedom, relief, joy, and excitement vanished with the snap of a finger and the panic very quickly set in. They were trapped! How could God have brought them this far only to abandon them? I know exactly how they must have felt – I am so quick to look at my circumstances and immediately lose faith and doubt God. I also begin to doubt myself, “Did I do this wrong?”
Moses bravely clings on to his faith. He tells the Israelites to “Not be afraid” and to “Stand firm.” What great faith he had in God! Instead of looking to the chaos that was surrounding him, Moses clung to the one thing he knew would never change. Moses knew that God had brought them this far, and He knew that God had promised to deliver them. Moses stood by his faith and reminded the Israelites of this.
When we feel trapped like the Israelites, it is in these moments that we have to choose if we are going to let God grow our faith. We will either give into despair or choose to keep believing. I am currently reading The Broken Way by Ann VosKamp and she writes, “It takes courage to listen with our whole hearts to the tick of God’s timing rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.” Fear is loud. It is like the pounding of a drum that makes our heart beat a little faster. But underneath that, is the soft melody of God’s plan for our lives and if we begin to consciously listen for it, we gain the ability to hear it everywhere we go.
So what do we do when we feel trapped? First, pray and call out to God. Then move forward knowing that God is with you even in the chaos. He has not abandoned you. Verses 15-16 give us a hint of what this looks like: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” We have to continue to takes steps FORWARD. There is no turning back to what once was. This is probably one of the hardest things you can do. It means depending completely, totally, absolutely on God. But that persistence gives God the room to pave the path when we cannot see the path for ourselves.
One last thing I want to share. My love language (if you know what I am talking about, if not you should look it up ) is “Words of Affirmation” and someone wrote these words to me a few weeks ago and they spoke directly to my heart and I’ve been carrying them around ever since: “God has an amazing plan for your life, and in the midst of craziness and chaos and confusion, He is right there by your side walking each step with you, lifting you up, and whispering promises in your ear. You were made for more, and I pray that you pursue what brings you real joy and satisfaction. You are loved and cherished and I pray you remember that every day.” I would say the same things to you at this very moment if you are feeling confused, trapped, lost or just plain tired. God does have an amazing plan for your life, so don’t be like the Israelites and give in to the panic quicksand. Instead don’t be afraid. Stand firm. Be still. Be ready for God to part the Red Sea for you.