*Warning: this is really long and kinda’ personal, so read at your own risk*

“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance 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 to be still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Exodus 14:10-15)

There is no way that I can imagine the plight of the Israelites at this point. They have gone from despair at their situation in Egypt to euphoria at their freedom. Then they begin to fear for their lives and question all that has led them to this point. They don’t understand, because although God has delivered them to this point, they are facing a situation that has no forseeable solution. They must feel that they have made a mistake to be up against the water on one side, but they can’t escape because of the approaching army. So, they do what we all do in that situation when we feel trapped, maybe by our own choices, maybe because of those that pursue us, or some combination of both. They complain. They whine. They fret. They panic.

I can get that. I do that much more often than a minister should. I see the results of my choices and the inevitable calamity that is coming. I put two and two together and get disaster. I see no way out. I worry. I complain. I fret. I panic. I look for a way out.

Sun Tzu says that to win a battle you should give your opponent the appearance of a way out. Not that you should actually let them escape, but he knew that when there is no hope people will fight with a reckless abandon. They will be more fierce and more desperate because of the hopelessness of their situation, and many times they will win. I think God allows his people, Israelites and Kentuckians alike, to feel hopeless so that they (we) will turn to Him for help and hope. When we feel like we can make it out on our own, we don’t need Him. Sure, we keep Him handy, like a last resort in case we get into trouble, but deep down we hope it doesn’t come to that.

So when the people begin to fret, Moses says two things, and God says one. First, Moses tells the people to “stand firm” and “be still”. How hard is it to stand firm when you are about to be lost? How difficult is it to be still when everything within you wants to run away? It is unnatural. It seems wrong. Your senses, your experience, and your logic tell you that this is stupid. My natural inclination is to do something, even if it is the wrong thing, because it is ridiculous to do nothing in the face of certain disaster.

Moses says that God will fight for us. That’s easy for him to say, but terribly difficult to act on. We have been taught, whether intentionally or not I don’t know, that God helps those who help themselves. If you are in trouble, God will save you by your hard work. Not that God expects us to do nothing, but this approach limits God’s ability to show himself to us. We can’t look at our lives and talk freely about what God has done for us because we have always taken matters into our own hands. God can’t help us if we are running around. He simply wants us to be still.

Then comes the interesting part. God tells Moses to “Move On.” What?! Move on to what? Into the oncoming army or into the raging sea? What seems like a crazy command is God’s test of a people’s faith. Do they trust Him enough to do the impossible, to do something of which they have no assurance of the outcome? Will they follow Him somewhere that makes no sense, over which they have no control, and that carries as much risk as reward?

I guess the Israelites only followed because they had no choice. They had no other way out. What were their options? Maybe that’s why God led them into a hopeless situation in the first place – so they would learn to place their hope in Him rather in themselves.

Which leads me to 2006. I am not in danger of death by an oncoming army. I am not pinned up against the sea. But I do feel in some ways stuck. There are several options that I have explored to get myself out, but they all seem wrong. There is deep within me the desire to stand firm. I want so badly to be still and allow God to fight for me. I want to move on into the unknown with full confidence that God will save me, provide for me and bring glory to His Name in the process.

So why am I afraid? I know that God is able. I guess deep down I wonder if He is willing. Why would He provide a miracle for me? Why would He bail me out? What if He doesn’t? What if I am wrong?

Today I choose to trust Him. I choose to stop looking at my options and put my total faith in Him. I choose to serve Him with all of my being and trust that the other, less important things will fall into place. I ask for forgiveness for wavering in my calling and for even considering selling out or bailing because it is too much trouble. I choose to stand firm in my commitment to Him and the work at GP, to be still in that I stop fretting about my situation and what could happen, and to move on into the unknown, not knowing what will happen or having any illusions that I can control the outcome. I may stumble, I may look back occasionally, but I am going to trust God with my future.