A wise man told our OnBoarding class that we should not leave the ship until God clearly calls us to.
I thought I’d be here one more year but God has clearly said this season of my life is nearing its end. So I’ve taken the decision and in September I’ll leave the ship and move back home. But that’s as far into the future as I can see right now.
I am a planner, and some may say I plan too far out but that’s just who I am. And in most cases its a great thing because I can see the end goal and figure out how to get to it. But here and now its difficult. But I am learning to practice patience in the presence of God.
The last couple of weeks have been difficult for me as I start budgeting for my return and wondering how I will ever be able to afford living in the States again. Its been hard to know I’m leaving for Advance in less than a month and entering a high stress, more than full time job, which will probably not leave me much time to job hunt or send out resumes. I had a glimmer of hope for a job but that did not work out in the end, so I’m back to the big question mark.
Then I finish my taxes and realize I owe more than I budgeted for. That’s money I won’t be able to put towards a new car. Then I remember about insurance and add that to my budget. I was talking with a friend about food in America and how processed and sugary it all is and how eating healthy is so expensive… and I increase my food budget for home. Another friend was just looking at washing machines and such for when they return and I think about how I will return with basically 50lbs of stuff and a few boxes I can pull from storage but that’s all I’ll have… I have to start from scratch all over again.
To say the least my anxiety should be going into overdrive right about now. But its not.
A few weeks ago I listened to a sermon on Exodus 14.
A few days after that a friend sent me an album, The Red Sea Road
And later as I sat in a friend’s car No Longer Slaves came on
And as we talked about faith we talked of it in reference to the parting of the Red Sea
And it dawned on me… I am here standing at the shore of the parted sea just waiting to walk across. The tension is in the waiting, because I can see the calling, the provision and the fulfillment ahead of me but I can’t yet step out. I must wait until the time is right.
God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon.
“Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”
And that’s what happened.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people were gone, he and his servants changed their minds. They said, “What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free?” So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.
God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!
They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”
Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.
God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.
“Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase—I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”
The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The seawaters split.
The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea. It was now the morning watch. God looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.
God dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh’s army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.
But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians.
The Israelites were camped, they were unpacked and settled in for the night (or maybe longer) they had just escaped slavery and oppression and were probably at peace for the first time since leaving Egypt… they had stopped and made camp surrounded by the Red Sea and the desert. But then they saw the Egyptians coming towards them… and they knew if caught they wouldn’t just be enslaved again, they would be destroyed.
So they go from being still and at peace in their situation to being overwhelmed and afraid… to being anxious. There is no way out, only the sea and the desert. There seems to be no way to escape the pressure that is now pushing at their backs.
And what does God say? He says to “get moving”. In their anxiety they stayed still and cried out for help, frozen in the moment of fear. But then they are called to action again, because faith requires action.
So God prepares a way out for them and provides protection from the pressure that builds behind them. He separates the two camps, he covers one in darkness and floods the other in light as he works. And it took all night long... imagine packing up your camp and looking out and watching the sea start to part… slowly and steadily the wind kicks up the sea until it is high walls beside a clear path through to the other side.
But God had not only promised a way out he promised the way would be firm and easy, he promised dry ground to walk on. Think about when you stand at the shore of an ocean and the waves roll back and your feet sink into the wet sand. You can walk and you can go further down the beach but its not necessarily easy and forget about taking a wagon or cart through that mucky sand. You will get stuck, you will struggle through the walk. It takes time for the ground to dry out to become easy to walk across.
So now imagine you stand at the shore, your path clearly in front of you and the pressure getting closer and louder and stronger behind you and everything in you wants to just run towards the other side. But you must wait until the ground dries.
So you stand at the ready and you wait.
And finally the ground will dry, the sea will stay parted and now you must move forward in foolish trust… will this actually work? Will the walls hold? And you must move forward in the dead of night trusting God will not fail you. Even though the path is clear and even though there is brilliant light guiding you, when you look to the left or the right you see that which has the power to crush you. But you must move forward, trusting it will hold.
Like so many of us know, the night only lasts for so long and when day breaks and you will find yourself on the other shore, unharmed and standing in the morning light. It was only after the Israelites were safely to the other side that the walls of water began to lose their power and the ground began to turn to mud. Finally, the walls failed completely and the water rushed back together in its natural form drowning the Egyptians… destroying the pressure and fear that had pursued the Israelites.
And from their safety on the shore they rejoiced at God’s fulfilled promise.
So here I am, standing at the shore, the pressure of the question “So what are you doing next?” pushing at my back. Here I am standing at the shore, clearly seeing the path ahead of me but uncertain where it leads. Here I am standing at the shore, waiting for the seabed to dry so I can walk across. Here I am standing at the shore, practicing patience in the presence of God, readying myself to move forward in foolish trust when he says “Go!”
Where are you? Crossing the Red Sea Road is a journey and each part of the journey is just as important…
Are you still and at peace with your circumstance? Embrace and enjoy the moment, savor this peace.
Are you standing at the shore ready to go but the ground is not yet dry? Embrace the moment and practice patience.
Are you walking in faith on the dry ground but wondering if the sea will hold? Embrace the moment and practice foolish trust.
Are you on the opposite shore at day break? Embrace and rejoice in this moment.