Have you ever really goofed up? I sure have. One summer I took a week off to attend a seminary class up in Charlotte, NC. I had planned to drive up a day or so early so that I might take a “day trip” over to the mountains in the western end of North Carolina. On my day off, I enthusiastically set off on I-85 out of Charlotte, savoring the anticipation of seeing the mountains and smelling the fresh mountain air if even just for a few fleeting hours. Not really knowing the interstate I was driving on, the names of the towns I was passing by were meaningless to me–that is, until I began to suspect that something was terribly wrong.
After about three hours into my road trip, and seeing no mountains in sight, I feared the worst: had I driven in the wrong direction? My questions put to a local gas station owner confirmed the heartbreaking News that I had. Knowing that my opportunity for a day trip had evaporated, I drove back despondently to my hotel in Charlotte. I wondered how I could have been so careless and consoled myself with the thought that maybe next summer
I would see the mountains once again.
Have you ever wondered whether God has made a mistake like that with your life?
Does it seem like He told you to pursue a certain course of action which later seemed to turn out nothing like you had expected?
If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. The Bible records instances in which people faced situations that prompted them to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness.
The nation of Israel faced this very challenge as God lead them out of Egypt. As we will see, what appeared to be tactical blunder by God during a key moment, turned out to be God’s crowning move that saved Israel and went down in history as a truly miraculous work of deliverance.
Israel had suffered under the yoke of hard slavery for over 400 years. At the end of their enslavement, God raised up Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. God also knew that the Pharaoh of Egypt would not allow Israel to leave so easily and therefore brought a series of ten plagues upon the Egyptian nation to humble them and persuade them to let the Israelites go free. But just as freedom seemed within their grasp, Israel faced an unexpected threat. Pharaoh changed his mind and ordered the Egyptian army to ride out into the desert and exterminate Israel.
As the Egyptians approached, God directed Moses to position Israel up against the Red Sea with apparently nowhere to run (Ex. 14:2). Has God ever placed you somewhere that made absolutely no sense from your perspective? Or, have you, in an act of faith, chosen to remain righteous and pure rather than give in to a sinful alternative, only to see others around you pursue sinful alternatives and seemingly prosper?
Seeing the oncoming army, Israel cried out to Moses. Moses, it seems from the text, was about as perplexed as the Israelites were (see vs. 15). God then instructed Moses to stretch his staff out over the sea. As he did, God did the miraculous. The Bible records that “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land” (vs. 21, NIV).
As the Egyptian army pursued closed behind, God then allowed the waters of the sea to fall back down onto the Egyptians after Israel was safely on the other side. In one bold move, God brought Israel out of from Egyptian bondage and delivered them from certain doom.
The lesson from this powerful passage is clear: God never makes mistakes! Rather, He seems to engineer our very circumstances in such a way that we will depend completely on Him rather than on our own resources. If your obedience to God seems to be getting you nowhere, realize that from God’s perspective, you are exactly where He wants you to be. Don’t give in to the temptation to sin or compromise your faith and obedience to Him in an effort to get yourself out of your circumstance. Use wisdom, work hard, and look for righteous alternatives, to be sure. But remain righteous, pure, and faithful to His word in your conduct and attitude. As you do, you will learn that in Him, “All things work together for our good” (see Rom. 8:28).
Allen can be reached at [email protected]