Oh man. I have just been completely wrecked this morning reading about the Israelites and specifically, about Moses. I wanted to share that with you. I pray you read it with an open heart, an open mind, and allow God to just move within your heart. I believe He has something for you today if you just sit and allow Him to speak into your life.
Life this past week has been nothin’ but BUSY. My school district has decided that we can now go back to 5 days of in-person instruction with full classrooms. The first two full days back, simply put, were just plain fun. Seeing all of my students together, watching them interact, and getting to teach like I typically would was so refreshing. I missed it.
Then on Friday, the first day that my co-teacher and I switched (so I saw both classes of 20 students in one day, rather than just keeping one class of 20 students all day), I was overwhelmed. I felt a lot of anxiety, worry, and just plain ol’ fear. I learned the hard way that I had most definitely over-planned and that I was not going to have nearly enough time to get through the lesson I planned, collect homework, respond to emails, etc. So I worried. I thought to myself, I thought it was going to be different now. I thought I had this in the bag! Now it’s just back to normal…As I had that thought, I was reminded of a sermon I had listened to a while back by Steven Furtick titled “Looking Forward to Normal”. If you haven’t listened to it, you should. It is convicting to say the least and a great reminder.
I didn’t realize it when I started to listen to this sermon again this week, but I truly believe God reminded me of it on purpose, because it was so timely and JUST what I needed. God knows us so well.
The story I read this morning goes right along with this sermon and it picks up in the book of Exodus when Moses is called to lead the people (The Israelites) out of Egypt. The Israelites went to Egypt originally due to a famine and a need for food. Eventually, they became slaves to the Egyptians. God is about to save His people from their oppression, and Moses is the man He calls to lead the people out of Egypt. So Pharaoh decides to let the Israelites go, then quickly changes his mind as he worries, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services” (Exodus 14:5). So he gets his entire army ready and starts to pursue the Israelites. Now, it’s important to remember at this point that God himself has spoken to Moses and promised him that He was going to deliver them from Egypt and that they would no longer be slaves. So Pharaoh catches up to the Israelites, and this is how they respond…honestly, as most of us would if we were being pursued by an army…”As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites…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 to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”” (Exodus 14:11-12).
And that’s where we come in. Oh, how we are JUST like the Israelites! God had promised He was about to deliver them, and rather than believe Him, they start freaking out and asking Moses why he didn’t just let them stay in Egypt…as SLAVES. Can you believe that?? They would rather go back to the place they were held captive, than to have to deal with the fear and uncertainty of stepping into this new thing that God had prepared for them and promised them. We are so much like the Israelites in our desire to have the things that bring us comfort and security, even when they are the same exact things that bind us and bring us down.
When in quarantine, we so BADLY wanted things to go back to “normal”. I spent some time reflecting while in quarantine and I realized that actually, I was again, just like the Israelites. I was a slave to my own agenda and calendar. To my own busyness. I was sooo tired and exhausted, running from place to place, meeting people, just fitting in as much as I could, and God so graciously knew I needed to be called out of that Egypt, just as the Israelites did.
So here I sit now, thinking about the fact that I felt so much peace and calmness when in quarantine because I finally HAD to sit still. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do, but to be with God in the stillness. And man do I hope to never go back to my Egypt! So when I felt myself on Friday feeling all of this fear, busyness, and exhaustion, I couldn’t help but think how easy it is to go back to “normal”. To have a desire to go back to how things were before, because it is comfortable and familiar. But in reality, it’s not comfortable at ALL! It’s tiring, it’s discouraging, and it is a place I no longer desire to inhabit!
As the Israelites ask Moses why he didn’t just let them stay slaves, he answers and tells the people to “…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” (Exodus 14:24). Then God tells Moses to perform a miracle with his staff in which the sea in front of the Israelites that would have trapped them, is parted and they are able to cross through on dry ground. The waters divide and the Israelites cross. The Egyptians and Pharaoh follow them into the sea and suddenly the waters flow back and the Egyptians are swept away into the sea. In Exodus 14:28 it actually says that “The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen-the entire army of Pharaoh that followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.”
Not a single one. Can you imagine if the Israelites had, in fear, decided to just surrender and go back to Egypt? They would have missed a MIRACLE and the land that God has promised them! I almost did the same thing. I have to continually FIGHT to not want to go back to my Egypt. Although Egypt feels comfortable and familiar, it is binding!
I’m just so inspired by the story of Moses and by his faith. Sadly even after the miracle God performed by bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, they still doubt Him and are unable to enter into the promised land because of their doubt. They spend years wandering in the desert and the book of Deuteronomy captures the last advice and reminders from Moses to the Israelites as they are finally about enter into the promised land! He challenges them to be faithful to God, to obey, and to remember all that their people have been through in FINALLY getting to this promised land.
And this is the most beautiful part of Moses’ story to me. As he is giving all of these reminders and advice, we are reminded that he is unable to go into the promised land. The very land that he has been called his ENTIRE life to lead the Israelites to. What??? Can you even fathom that? Working your entire life and leading a people who are so fickle and wishy-washy, then FINALLY getting to the point where your people are ready to enter, but you are not going to be able to go. I know I would be so upset! But instead, Moses is telling the people all of these amazing reminders of where they’ve been, what their ancestors have been through, and just how GOOD that God has been to them.
And as Moses is about to send the next generation of Israelites into the promised land, he says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” But God is so good to Moses. Even though he can’t enter into the promised land, God takes him up to the top of a mountain and lets Moses see the whole promised land. Can you just imagine the emotion in that moment? Everything that Moses has worked for and struggled through and for his entire life, finally laid out right before his very eyes. A promise of God, made visible. And after he sees this, he dies and is buried by God himself as Deuteronomy 34:10-12 says “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt-to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all of Israel.”
Can you just imagine living a life in which you know God face to face? Being content with knowing that what God has called you to do your entire life, you may not fully see it come to fruition or get to experience it the way you thought? And still, Moses was faithful.
So I pray that I remember the “Egypt” I was living in and that I pursue the “promised land” that God has called me into. I pray I don’t seek the misleading comfort in what my life used to be before. I pray I would have faith like Moses to whole-heartedly seek the promised land that God so desires for me to live in. I pray that I would take time to remember the desires that God has for me and that even when I face fear and worry, and I can remember that my God is good, he is faithful, and He keeps his word and promises!