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My Red Sea Challenge-Part One

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

They were being vigorously pursued by the whole army! They were desperate. They had left everything they had ever known and were now fleeing for their lives. Chasing a better life in a better land had now turned them into the chased, primary Egyptian prey. Barely managing to outrun their hunters, the gap was quickly narrowing. How could they ever manage to stay ahead being on foot, no chariots or nimble-footed horses, and being such a huge crowd? Yes, everything was at stake! They must never become Egyptian quarry. Terror gripped their hearts. Each hastened step forward was in almost total silence except for the whimpering of the youngest children.

Then it seemed as though collectively they all saw the same insurmountable impediment lying ahead-The Red Sea! And, the army was also now visible behind them! There was no choice but to move ahead or be slaughtered! They were driven forward.

Now here’s an interesting point. God had led the Israelites the long way around so they would not be boxed in on all sides by warring tribes-but of course they didn’t know that. They would have had to engage in fighting battles with the Philistines and others and God knew they just weren’t ready to face those foes in combat. (Exodus 13) They were slaves, not soldiers. Hard labour was all they knew. The only possible way ahead for them was through the sea, miraculously through the sea. And, when Moses raised the staff, that’s exactly what happened! The sea parted, the waters receded, and they all walked across on dry land, not just mud and slush, but dry ground! When the last person of this vast multitude reached the far shore, the water again closed over their predators drowning them all!

Let’s pause here and take an even closer look. For generations the Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians. Over the years there had never even been a hint, let alone any possibility of freedom. Their children were born into slavery and they knew nothing else. Now suddenly in this life threatening predicament they were stunned by the realization of what they had done. How could they have ever followed Moses into this death trap? Their homes, their food, (Numbers 11:5) everything they’d ever know was gone forever, all for this dream of “the land that flowed with milk and honey”. Have you noticed that our lives look a lot more attractive than they really are when we are afraid to move forward, when we take risks?

How often do we look back and wonder where our life plan went wrong? When we were young we plotted a course for ourselves in a straight line to happiness…or so we thought. Now here we are disillusioned, broken, perhaps ill and feeling very downtrodden. Covid hasn’t helped either. Maybe some other Red Sea challenge has plagued you for years: your sour marriage, your inadequate finances, worry over your children, your poor physical or mental health and no matter what you do or how hard you pray, nothing changes. You have certainly taken the long way around. Things just aren’t what you thought they’d be.

I’ve had a long standing Red Sea challenge…and I’m sure you probably have too. My oldest son has an acquired brain injury. He was diagnosed in his early teen years and is now almost 50 years old. I’ve prayed and prayed for him all these years and while many may say, him included at times, to no avail, there have been significant changes and so very many God-given lessons. I no longer pray for his healing. I stopped that years ago. I understand full well that he is a wonderful and amazing person just as he is. I call him Perseverance Personified because he never gives up. As any mom would, early on I wanted him to be gainfully employed with a loving partner and possibly children. I wanted him to be content in life. But instead God led him, us, the long way round. While it may seem that the enemy has won out, the plan for my son’s life was never out of God’s control. He has shown us both that life is all about trusting Him. It’s about demonstrating our faith when we literally cannot see a way forward. There are lessons, yes, even painful ones, which can only be learned in the roiling seas, that place that seems utterly hopeless unless God intervenes in a miraculous way. God asks us to daily rely only on him. If we do, He shows us a profound beauty in those depths in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways.

We’ve learned too that this is an ongoing process. Indeed the Israelites were rescued from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, but not long afterwards they were grumbling again about their food and their water or whatever came to mind it seemed. The fact that their captors had been wiped out simply evaporated from their collective memory. The fact that they had witnessed miracle after miracle was forgotten. The fact that God was always with them now seemed insignificant. Yet time and time again he demonstrated His almighty power and His boundless love to them…and to us. Human beings are a tough and stubborn lot! Have you perhaps forgotten about God's faithfulness over all your years?

The main thing I’ve learned at the Red Sea is this. You must take the initial step in obedience. And just as you lift your foot in acquiescence for that first icy plunge, the water miraculously disappears beneath your foot even before it hits the surface! God doesn’t take us further into the deeper water of growing and learning until we are compliant at the shore in that very first step of faith. Then we come to understand that while that initial desperate and brave step indeed may have saved us, He draws out further into the inky swirling waters to experience a rich, luscious, and extravagant Love like no other! But it all begins when we take that first step out! And incredibly, no matter how much we learn and grow, our Father always has so very much more waiting for us out in the depths of the deep blue sea!

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