Eyes widened with wonder as the enormous pillar of cloud spun and rotated to place itself between the enemy and God’s children. Never before on this long, arduous wilderness journey had they witnessed such an intentional move of protection from their God. Oh, for sure, God’s provision had been evident, His power amazing.
But this … this was different.
Doubt and frustration had flung itself through the Israeli camp. Discontentment gave birth to murmuring and complaining to the very God who had delivered them from the enemy’s oppression. They were not happy campers and now the sound of galloping hooves pounded through the desert air, dust billowing in defiance to the One True God. Fear arose, hurling more accusations at their Deliverer.
That’s what discontent and fear looks like, isn’t it? It is self-absorbed. Faithless. Entitled.
But God is merciful.
Especially when it comes to His children.
The children of Israel were hemmed in. Water shimmered in the moonlight in front of them — deep, impossible water. Pharaoh and his army were approaching from behind. God’s people were trapped and faced with three options: surrender, fight … or trust God.
If they were like me, I’m sure they just wanted it all to go away. But that wasn’t a choice. The battle cry of the enemy was sounding with alarming clarity.
I’ve been in this place many times, as I’m sure you have too. It’s part of the human condition in a fallen world — especially for those who choose to walk by faith and not by sight. How many times have I faced deep, impossible waters threatening to drown me if I moved forward, all the while hearing the sound of the enemy’s taunts rattling in my ears, frightening me with his approach? Impossible situations. Unbearable heartache that stopped me in my tracks. Fear of an unknown future.
But isn’t that when our merciful God of impossibilities shows up? Even in the midst of our complaining and frustrated outbursts, our God remains faithful.
And that’s exactly what He did in this familiar story of the parting of the Red Sea found in Exodus 14. God pushed the sea back with a mighty east wind and made the sea into dry land. The children of Israel passed through the walls of water to the other side. The Egyptians followed and the Lord caused the sea to crash over them — the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh. Not so much as one of them remained.
This beloved bible story resonates with us in so many ways. And in its familiarity, it’s easy to lose some of its power and maybe even part of its message.
For the first time in over forty years of loving this story, I saw something new. I realized that when the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea, it was dark. Night. The pillar of fire lit their way through the darkness as they stepped out in faith and watched the miracle of God unfold.
It. Was. Still. Dark.
And then, when the new day dawned, that’s when the enemy was destroyed.
The parallel of our own journeys leaped from the page! When our lives are crumbling apart, or when we are faced with the impossible with no way out and the enemy mocks us with his jeers and torments, it seems as if we are shrouded in darkness. But then out of the darkness the Lord speaks and instructs us to move forward as we watch Him fight for us. As we take one timid step after another, we behold our miracle. Like a mighty wind, He pushes the impossibilities aside to give us sure footing. Even though fear and uncertainty hover in the shadows of night just beyond the light of the Lord, once we cross over, the new dawn breaks. We look back at our path and we watch as the enemy is swallowed up before us.
Faith-steps occur in darkness, lit only by the Light of the Lord. But when we, through obedience and trust, agree to take those steps, the new dawn breaks and we witness the surmise of our enemy.