I have a tendency to try and control things that I am incapable of controlling. This fault of mine has long caused me to miss out on enjoying the moment. I can borrow worries of the future that never really play out and I can be anxious regarding things that are far beyond my ability to influence. With that in mind the text for this Sunday is perfect for me.
Moses and the Israelites have been delivered by God’s “mighty acts” and have left Egypt for the Promised Land that God has prepared for them. Can you imagine this event? Three million people journeying together – the logistics of this are absolutely mind-boggling! They left the only home they had ever known. Even though Egypt was a land of slavery, it was also their norm and therefore it produced a certain amount of security. This is the same issue for so many of us who remain in bad situations but at least it is “our” situation and it is familiar.
After a short amount of time Pharaoh changes his mind again and sends his army to bring the Israelites back into bondage. The mighty Egyptian military with its hundreds of chariots is nearly upon the Israelites. The former slaves are infinitely ill-equipped to defend themselves against this enemy. As the saying goes, “They are between a rock and a hard place.” Israel had the Red Sea in front of them, the Egyptian army behind them, hills on one side and desert on the other. They were trapped!
But the bigger truth is that they were just where God had led them. He had brought them to this very point in time, to this very location so that He could teach them and us that we are in His loving hands. But the Israelites cry out in their fear and their doubt against Moses and God, “Why did you bring us out in the wilderness to die? Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt?” I wish I could be amazed at their lack of faith but in reality I need to confess similar short-term memory problems of what God has done in my life too.
God speaks through Moses to the questions of the people he has been called to lead and I am in the audience as well.
Today my patient, mighty and gracious God reminds me again that He is the Creator and I am His beloved creation. He cares for me and loves me all through the days of my life. That obviously includes the days that are filled with laughter as well as the days that I feel like I am “between a rock and hard place.”
Trying to be still,
Two weeks until Thanksgiving?
Wasn’t I just planning for Easter?
I love this time of the year even in its busyness. I am taking a break today from tying my View article into the Sunday Waypoints message, which by the way is on the Plagues God imposed upon Egypt in Exodus 7-12. I decided that I needed to take a moment to remind myself and you of the power of gratitude.
The past week has been tough for me and I found myself with an empty tank. The main reason my tank ended up empty is that I didn’t take time to have it filled back up again. Barb reminded me this morning that even Jesus [And I am far from having Jesus’ capacity] needed time to recharge in His humanity. This truth is what brought me to this moment of reflection on Thanksgiving and gratitude.
I can and should engage in the needs of people in my world. God made us to bear each other’s burdens and connect our lives to one another. But along with that truth is the truth that I need to be strengthened by the “renewing of my mind.” [Romans 12] Barb’s words gave me the insight to see that I had unintentionally suppressed being renewed or “refueled” the past few days. My life has always had demands and concerns that are bigger than I can handle on my own. This is true for you as well. When I go after it without God’s wisdom, strength and grace I will lose perspective. I will lose joy!
That is why I need to think about Thanksgiving.
The arrival of Moses on the scene in Exodus 1-2 is a great example of how God so often moves in our world. From the vantage point of Scripture we see normal things happening such as humanity forgetting God’s provision in the past, the birth of a baby boy and the marriage of that same boy a number of years later. But there are also elements to the story that are very “God only” such as the continued growth of Israel in the face of persecution, the way Moses was raised by his mother even though he wasn’t supposed to be alive at all and the masterful way that God led Moses to his future wife.
This is still the way God acts today. He moves in ways that seem very “normal” as well as ways that seem absolutely “extraordinary.” Today God Almighty is motivated in the same ways as He was in Exodus 2:24-25.
God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
When Scripture points out that God remembers it does not mean that He ever forgot. It means that God will now, at just the right time, take the perfect action to bring about what needs to happen. In Exodus 2 God will be bringing Israel back into a deep connection with Himself through His deliverance. He will also be proclaiming to Pharaoh and all of Egypt that He alone is God and worthy to be worshiped.
This dual purpose is needed in my life today as well. This past week I was brought to a place of crying out to my God and then resting in the truth that He heard me. He will get me through and give me all I need. It was also a good week to be reminded that there are many distractions and temptations to worship “false gods.” The reason I used quotes is because I could easily miss the fact that I was tempted to worship at places I shouldn’t. Look at the following sentences and see if you can join me in naming the false gods.
The story of Moses and the Exodus is quite a ride. Are we up for a ride that will require faith as well or are we only wanting a life doesn’t really require faith at all? Are we wanting to be about things that stretch us as God moves in the world or would we prefer to watch from a distance? The question really boils down to this - do I want to worship God with my life or would I prefer to just talk about worshiping God?
In God’s Grace,
Pastor Nick Mundis