5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:5-9; 21-22
There they stood at the edge of the water, the shadow of their fear swallowing them in the darkness despite the nearness of God. Behind them the Egyptians pursued them with vigor. Before them the moving waters of the Red Sea. Surrounded by seemingly impossible odds, but actually surrounded by God.
And he was about to reveal his presence in a mighty way.
Standing there at the edge of the sea, Moses stretched out his hand, raised his staff, and waited for God to show up.
Now, I’m not sure what was scarier in that moment. The looming presence of the Egyptians with their chariot army or the presence of God in the form of gusting winds strong enough to clear a path of dry land through the Red Sea. There are researches who suggest that the wind speed had to be at least 67 mph in order to create and sustain a path through the waters. And the Israelites were going to walk through the sea, walk through those winds.
And even though Moses told them not to be afraid, can you imagine that first step into the sea? Can you imagine the four-hour journey that some scientists believe it took the Israelites to cross the expanse of those waters? Every step echoing loudly with the racing, non-stop wind gusts. Every step sloshing through a narrow corridor of walls of water looming overhead on either side, the spray a constant reminder of the nearness of the rushing waters being held back by the breath of God.
Consider that four-hour journey. Consider what went through the minds of those newly-freed slaves. Do you wonder if maybe for a few moments they yearned for the comfort of where they’d come from? Do you think perhaps they longed for the safety of what was familiar even though they hated every moment of captivity?
Every step of that journey had to involve a step of faith, one after another. In spite of the fear. In spite of the circumstances. In spite of the reality that surrounded them. In spite of all of these and more, their journey demanded a deep trust in the God who was calling them out of captivity and into his promise. No matter how sweet that promise, they needed to endure the journey.
Maybe that’s how you feel sometimes about the journey you’re on right now.
Just because you have a vision, just because God is calling you toward your purpose, don’t think it’s going to be easy. You’re going to face strong winds of opposition. You’re going to face armies of naysayers and doubters. You’re going to face a journey that calls on you to trust God deeply. You’re not only going to need to step out in fear, you’re going to have to defeat that fear with every step.
But it’s worth it, right? Because wouldn’t you rather be in the promised land of dreams than in the captivity of fear and mediocrity, living according to somebody else’s rules and expectations?
I’m guessing that each one of those Israelites contemplated giving up, going back, giving in. I certainly would have. In fact, I have. I’ve longed for my Egypt and, in the words of Sara Grove, left out what it lacked. But all that does is keep me stuck in my fears. And that’s a tiresome, uninspired place to live.
Remember, my friends, if it seems like you are facing impossible odds, nothing is impossible for God. Nothing. He’s still in the business of miracles. He still shows up. The breath of God still blows away the shadows of our fears and lights our way with his power.
Trust Him. Trust God deeply and take the next step and the next one and the next one.