Listening to Ellie Holcomb’s song, Red Sea Road this morning, I could not avoid thinking through one simple statement. The song's lyrics talk about how we will never walk alone on the Red Sea Road (symbolic to God’s provision in our suffering – Exodus 14).
This single lyric stuck in my head dug roots into my thoughts this morning.
I realized - had the Israelites escaped Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt and walked into the wilderness - it would have just been a wilderness. Just an everyday strain. An explainable struggle. An endeavor easily overlooked or reasoned. Something else to overcome. Familiar.
Yet God brought them to the Red Sea, not just the wilderness.
Have you ever faced a difficult situation that went from bad to worse…
This was where God lead Israel. Bad (fleeing their enemy into the wilderness) to worse (cornered by their pursuing enemy at the water’s edge). They respond like I believe any normal human being would –
Is it there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? … It would have been better for us to have serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. - Exodus 14:11-12
Would I have been any different? Let’s ignore the fact that Israel had just seen God move in miraculous ways to rescue them. They have gone from pacing the wilderness, to being pursued while facing nowhere to run. Would I have wanted to return to the very situation I cried out to be rescued from?
But God did not bring them to the water’s edge to see defeat. Just as He never intends to bring us into our struggles to face defeat. He brings us there for a purpose – to be clear – HIS PURPOSE.
The Red Sea is where God parted the waters and had them walk through the very travesty that they assumed defeated them. It may have been easy for them to forget God was with them in Egypt, when they worked hard to stay alive and fed. It was obviously easy to forget God was with them in the Wilderness when they walked to the shores of the water, with enemies on their skirt-tails. BUT…how do you forget God is with you as you walk across dryground in the middle of a massive body of water, with those waters walled to either side of you?
Ellie Holcomb’s lyrics read:
When we can’t see the way, He will part the waves, and we will never walk alone on the Red Sea Road.
God tells us in his word he is with us wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9, Is 41:10, Duet 31:6, Mt 28:20, Hebrews 13:5, Ps 23:4, Ps 139:7-10). He drives that point home even more so when His son is given the name Immanuel, “God with us” (Mt 1:23). There are times we forget, there are times we struggle against our affliction by our own efforts, and then there are times when we acknowledge – God is with us.
I’m amazed when I think now about the Israelites walking through the Red Sea - an unexplainable, unavoidable struggle - knowing in such an undeniable way that God was with them in that moment.
I’m sure IF they had the option between facing the Red Sea with their enemies closing in on them – or – walking through the wilderness tired and hungry; they probably would’ve chosen the lesser of two evils and gone through the wilderness. At least in the wilderness they could struggle, they could work, they could make the effort to push on - but at the foot of the Red Sea there was nothing they, themselves, could do but depend on God. To acknowledge his existence. To need him. To desperately cry out to him. And God was so good to give them a Red Sea to know this undeniable truth. Seriously, how does one look at standing walls of water to the left and right and not know God is there with them?
Israel had to choose to see God in the wilderness; but how good of God to show himself to them in the Red Sea. To overshadow doubt. To narrow the gap in their faith. To assure them of His faithfulness.
Do any of you look to your left and right and there is a sea of illness, an ocean of struggle, a barrier of pain, or confusion? If so, choose also to see God. If you are walking through a “Red Sea” today and you are looking fearfully behind you at the enemy or you’re looking desperately ahead of you for an escape - I encourage you to pause today and look to your left and your right and let God meet you in that moment and let him make himself known. Affirm to you He is present.
When life goes from bad to worse – look for evidence of His faithfulness and His presence. And remember too that as Israel stepped out on to that dry path leading them through the great walls of water - they did not know how the story would end. They had no guarantee the waters would not swallow them. They stepped, Im sure in a unstable union of fear and faith. Holcomb acknolwedges this unchartered emotion we too find ourselves at times:
"God knows we ache, when he asks us to go on..."
BUT...that is why He tells us time and time again - I am with you.
Gavin’s quiet time this morning (studying the names of God) was learning God is Jehovah Shamma – “the Lord is there.” God will always be with us. But so many of us exist through our days without acknowledging that comfort; that fact.
His journal was a single question: "where do you need to remember God is with you?" A simple question - but one we should all ask. And them believe the truth that He is with you there.
So today - ask yourself - where do you need to remember God is with you?
Acknowledge He is. Whether in joy or in pain:
Open your eyes and see Him.
Open your heart and acknowledge Him.
Lift up your face and cry out to Him.
HE IS THERE.