Points to Ponder: Oh God, You Must Be Kidding!
Points to Ponder
"Oh God, You Must Be Kidding!"
"What goes up, must come down," so the saying goes. You can have a string of successes, climb spiritual mountaintops, and feel like you are in the will of God. Then, a set-back comes. The road God led you to follow hits an apparent dead end. The enemy you overcame suddenly is on your tail again, even more determined to knock you down. You find yourself trapped, and as you back track in mind to the origin of your dilemma, you realize the Source is the Lord. Now what?
In fear and frustration you look to heaven and cry for help. You don't want to yell "This is all Your fault!" Although in our worst moments, we tend to blame God for allowing - or even guiding us into - this mess. So, you keep a positive attitude and beg for a miracle; or at least ask for guidance on how to get out. You know you are progressing in your faith when the solution He gives you is beyond reason. Israel's escape out of Egypt (Exodus 7-12) is a wonderful example.
Moses gains confidence as a leader in the face of Pharaoh, King of Egypt. God smacks around the local gods through a series of ten plagues. Egypt's economy in all but wiped out, the king and his people are demoralized by the tenth plague, the death of every first-born human and animal. Pharaoh sets Israel free.
Under God's guidance, they wind up at the Red Sea, a dead end. In the meantime, the now furious Pharaoh rolls out his army of chariots and soldiers in hot pursuit. Israel is boxed in and fearfully regretting their exodus from Egypt.
"Then they said to Moses, 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?'" (Exodus 14:11)
They wanted their former condition back. Slavery was safer; a sort of job security. Complacency offers a consistency that's comfortable. When your calling forces you down pathways that are risky and unpredictable, you remember your old shackles like they were jeweled bracelets. "It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians..." they lamented.
But Moses remembered how the Israelites were sitting back in Goshen while God smacked around the Egyptians and their gods with those plagues. So he assures the crying people that God's going to "fight for you." God is going to take out Pharaoh's army, just stand still and watch. Moses was only half right, basing his faith on what he'd seen God do already. But that all happened while the people were living under Egyptian bondage. Now they are out of bondage and marching, at least that far, in faith. Both Moses and the people are now being called to step up to the next level of faith. The people are crying out like they did as slaves. Moses is leading from the mind set of his former leadership techniques. There must be an eleventh plague - let's watch for it. Nope. New plan, God says.
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea'" (Exodus 14:15-16).
Now, most of us have seen the movie, so this is no big deal to us. But walk through each of those verses, step by step as if for the first time. You're facing a sea in front of you; an angry army behind you. God says, "...go forward." You think, "O God, You've got to be kidding!" And you, Moses, you're the leader. The first step in moving forward is to have a vision that only God can give you - and only God can make happen. These people are going to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground. "Oh God, You must be kidding!"
You're the leader, Moses. If you trust the Lord, that gives people the courage to trust you. And when they see you trusting God, they will learn to trust God, too. The Lord tells him, "...lift up your rod and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it." "Oh God, You must be kidding!"
Of course, you know the story. The people are told to go against what they see as an impossible obstacle. Moses is told to do something that's never been done before. Divide the sea.
These were not extraordinarily powerful people. They could have fought their way out of Egypt if they had power. They were escaped slaves. Their leader was a fugitive murderer (Exodus 2:11-15), who worked forty years as a shepherd.
God called this leader and these people to come out of bondage. By His power, He freed them. But once they were on the road to freedom, they had to walk that road by faith (II Corinthians 5:7).
God does not free us for our purposes or for our comfort. You have a divine assignment (Jeremiah 1:5). To succeed, you will be challenged to believe in the impossible, to go forward at dead ends, to divide insurmountable barriers. In places where the odds are stacked against your faith, you think, "Oh God, You must be kidding!" He's not.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am.