(This one is from 2007. I’ve been reading in Exodus 14 again this week and I love so much about this story.)
“God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!” [Exodus 14:14, The Message]
The words leapt off the page and bounced around inside my head. I had heard the story of the Israelites and their exodus from Egypt since I was a little kid, but this time, I felt their pain. I had found myself in the middle of what I felt to be a battle of my own… surrounded by students with needs bigger than I could ever begin to meet, frustrated by supervisors continuing to push for more, more, more when I felt like I had no more to give, embroiled in personal conflict that made each day a challenge (especially that “keeping my mouth shut” part!). I was tired, and though I probably wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, I was scared too. Scared that I would disappoint the people that I cared about, scared that, despite my frantic efforts and intense striving, I would fail as a teacher, as a friend, as a ‘good Christian.’ That cold night, God’s words to His people, Israel, were His words to me too.
But those words weren’t spoken in a vacuum… rewind to Exodus 6 and we have a clue about the kind of relationship that God shared with Moses and the Israelites. I love how God describes Himself as both The Strong God and God (I-Am-Present) [Exodus 6:2, The Message]. Israel needed to know that their God was powerful enough to deliver them from their slavery to Pharaoh, but they also needed to know that He was present with them in that slavery, that He heard their cries, He saw the injustice, He cared. It was in the context of that relationship, of that understanding of the character of their God, that Israel could hold on to God’s promise to bring them out of Egypt [Exodus 6:7,8]. And it was in the context of that relationship that they could relinquish their fear and respond obediently to God’s command to be still, to keep their mouths shut, when Pharaoh changed his mind and was breathing down their necks again.
Don’t we need that same reassurance? I know I did… it was important for me to experience God as both The Strong God—with the power to change my situation (which He chose to do, eventually) and The God Who Is Present—with the grace to walk with me through each hard day until that change occurred (which, I will admit, was a longer time than I would have chosen). It is in the context of that relationship that I was able to hold onto His promises for me. And it is in the context of that relationship that I am still seeking, each day, to relinquish my fear and respond obediently to His commands.
How about you? Do you need to experience God as powerful deliverer? Do you need to experience Him as the Present One? Do you need to allow your understanding and experience of God to sustain you as you hold fast to His promises? Do you need to relinquish your fear? Is God calling you to be still, to keep your mouth shut and let Him fight your battle? My prayer on that night is my prayer today as well, for you and for me: “Lord, help us to experience You, in the midst of our own difficult situations, as both The Strong God and The God Who Is Present. Help us to cling to your promises and believe that both Your plans and Your timing are perfect. Amen.”