A neighborhood park resident told our community social group he had seen a sidewinder rattlesnake behind his house. ”Those things move fast, 18 miles an hour,” he proclaimed.
Fear made me freak. In the habit of walking a mile a day through my neighborhood, I announced, “I’m not sure I want to take walks anymore.” But another neighbor, a retired National Park Service worker, quietly brought balance to the issue. “In all my years in the wildness, I never saw a sidewinder. They don’t move that fast and they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. You keep walking.”
Caught between an army and an ocean
The Israelites faced a more dire situation than a furtive rattlesnake. After leaving Egypt, they came to the Red Sea, sixteen miles wide at its narrowest channel. Behind them was a pursuing Egyptian army with 600 of its best chariots and an untold number of other chariots and foot soldiers. The fear mongers among them didn’t help matters. Talk quickly grew into “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert (Exodus 14:12).”
Fear has the power to paralyze us and keep us from fighting through whatever we face: imagined, minimal, or very real. Stories throughout history tell us that an unarmed group with women and children trapped between a military force and a natural landmark spells slaughter. Panicked people only make the military’s job easier.
This group of people, however, had the resources they needed to overcome. They had just witnessed a series of stunning miracles that showcased God’s power and interest in them as a people group. Wasn’t that enough to convince them of God’s supremacy, that death in the desert was not the only option?
Moses responded to their fear talk. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).” In other words, “Hush. Stop the chatter. Stop fighting and fretting. Remember who you serve and trust Him to take care of you.”
Fear is not the only option
I need that reminder. All of us do. No matter if we face a horrific crisis or chaos of our own making, the first step is to squelch the fear-infusing chatter that corrodes our ability to make reasonable decisions. We need to squelch the fear chatter and listen to God’s perspective. We need to stop fighting against God with our inner turmoil. Instead, we need to work with God in confidence and trust, for it is there we find our strength (Isaiah 30:15).
When the Israelites settled down and heeded God’s plan, that next step, as God outlined to Moses in Exodus 14, set the stage for the parting of the Red Sea. The Israelites walked on dry ground between two walls of water. The Egyptian army, on the other hand, mired in mud and drowned when the water returned to its normal place. God’s plan fulfilled His purpose: that He would gain glory and the Egyptians would know that He was God (Exodus 14:4,18).
Doomsday voices swirl around us every day, voices that want to predict one certain outcome long before it happens. The option they give is often a worse case scenario that fails to factor the power of God to deliver us. As people of faith, our job is to ook at our situation from God’s perspective. God is God and there is no other. He is bigger than anything you face, no matter how bad your life situation might get. We then take necessary precautions and start walking, trusting that God is in control. When we invite God into our crisis, He gains glory and all who watch will know that He is God.
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