And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
Exodus 14:13-15 (ESV)
In 2019, I ran the half-marathon portion of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the first time. It was a daunting challenge that I spent weeks training and preparing for. (While I did run cross-country in high school, that was 35 years and about twice that many pounds ago!)
The day of the race arrived. I was full of confidence and eager to begin.
It turns out that I was a little too eager. The adrenaline got the best of me, and I ran the first five miles of the 13.1 miles at a much faster pace than I had ever achieved during my training runs. By the time I topped Gorilla Hill a little more than halfway through the race, I had begun to seriously question my sanity and decision-making skills as I began to ask myself why had I chosen to do this to myself…and to pay money for this privilege.
The Israelites also had questions about the choices they had made as they fled Egypt. In Exodus 14:13-15, we find them with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit coming up from behind.
Predictably, and as became their habit, the people of Israel began to whine, moan, and complain to Moses, claiming it would be better to suffer oppression from their Egyptian masters than to die out in the desert. In response, Moses told the people to stand firm and watch Yahweh act on their behalf.
I love God’s response: “Why are you crying out to me? Keep going!” God had a plan, but for the plan to work, the people of Israel needed to be obedient and to keep walking. As it turns out, God’s plan to part the Red Sea and allow the Israelites to pass safely was a pretty good one, but it required the people to keep going. It required their active involvement and obedience.
We see a similar demonstration in Exodus 3. Joshua is set to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land, but first they have to cross the Jordan River, which just so happened to be at flood stage. God commanded the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant ahead into the Jordan River. The Bible tells us that as soon as the feet of the priests were in the water of the river, the flow of the river stopped, once again allowing the people to pass on dry ground.
Pastor Mark Batterson in his book, The Circle Maker, uses this story to illustrate how our faith also requires action. For the Jordan River to stop flowing, the priests first had to step into the river itself. God will be faithful to act, but we must be faithful in our obedience by continuing to move forward, to press on, and sometimes to get our feet wet. We cannot let the uncertainty of our circumstances or our fear of the unknown paralyze us.
Your future may seem uncertain and unclear today. Maybe you have a job to return to when our life gets back to normal, maybe you don’t, or maybe you don’t even know for sure. You might be facing financial pressures that are no less terrifying and just as real as the pursuing Egyptians. But God is faithful and he wants you to keep walking. He wants you to continue to walk in faith step by step, day by day. As each of us continue to take those necessary steps of faith, God will continue to show up to reveal himself to us daily, to meet our needs as he promised and use us as his voice of hope to our world.
By the way, in case you were wondering, I did manage to finish the race. There were times I wanted to quit, but I somehow managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other all the way to the finish line. (And no, it wasn’t pretty.)
Guess what? I’m going to run it again this year, and I’m just going to keep going.
We thank you for being a faithful and loving heavenly Father. When the cares of life seem to be more than we can handle, strengthen us so we can obediently keep walking by faith. Remind us daily that you are a promise-keeping God who will meet our every need out of the abundance of your love and mercy. We know that as the sovereign Creator of the universe, you are aware of even the smallest detail of our lives, and your unmatched love compels you to remain with us always.
Thank you for the peace, power, and provision your presence provides.
Pastor of Pastoral Care
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