Apologies for taking a gap since last writing, my children and I are crossing the Red Sea. Which SUCKS BIG TIME.
I’ve never really thought about that before. What it was like once the Israelites were actually in the Red Sea crossing it. Yes, they’d been standing on the shore with the murderous Egyptians bearing down upon them and saying, “Anytime now, Lord, would be good. A way forward ANYTIME NOWWWW.”
And the Lord gave them one. The author of creation turned creation on its head and parted the waters. Fantastic. They had a way to go forward, now they just had to take it.
And there was the rub. Because the waters parted, yes, but not to reveal cocktail waitresses offering refreshments and golf carts to help these weary, scared refugees (Over treacherous terrain? Deafened by indescribable noise? Under time pressure?) The Lord gave them a way, and this was it. This was the Lord’s plan, and it was not a second-best kind of deal. It was huge and terrifying and they hadn’t seen it coming. It was to save their lives and, as they embarked looking over their shoulders, the way back was firmly closed.
Have you ever considered how many of the Israelites took their children? Children who had probably had an entirely different experience of Egypt. Who hadn’t been making bricks without straw, who’d had friends and food on the table and a routine. Things had been relatively OK in their world.
Then their parents ripped them from all they had and, with only snatched explanation, dragged them from all they knew with only the clothes on their backs. All the comforts of what they had understood as “home” gone. In an instant. And no turning back. No choice. No vote.
I empathize with the Israelites. Have you ever taken a child somewhere they don’t want to go? And the going itself is brutal? And there’s no change coming up soon? And there’s no way back only forward? As a parent, you’re meant to be the one who gets it. Who cheer leads your offspring forward and tells them it really will be OK in the long run. When you yourself don’t know the outcome exactly, so the faith you express to your kids is absolutely the real thing. FAITH.
Faith in the One who provided you with the way – the only way – forward. A miraculous way for sure, but horrifying, daunting, hard, and challenging to your core beliefs in ways that make previous tests of faith look like child’s play.
Like the Israelites, my children and I have had to leave everything on the shore behind us in the last month or so. I have kept my faith and my hope. However, over the past two and a half years, I have lost everything else that I had been standing upon: marriage; dog; community; house and home; lifestyle; nationality; social strata; career; and adult independence of any kind. In the list of things that cause stress in one’s life, the fact my brain and heart have not actually exploded must be confirmation that the Lord’s hand is on my life to sustain me. So I’ll take it.
I’m meant to be the one cheer leading my kids, when for much of the time I want to curl up and wait for the Red Sea to drown me too. Bereavement catches me unexpectedly. Standing in a sofa store realizing that, before, I’d had a perfectly good sitting room I’d lovingly created over two decades. Looking for a cup to measure dog food when, before, I’d had the perfect scoop at home. Catching a reference to a TV show that, before, I used to know the time of. Seeing a photograph of bright sun that, before, I had felt on my skin every day.
At least four ideas for blogs have gone through my mind over the last three weeks, but none of them smacked of what I know to be true. I am not hopeless. Just because the way is horrid and horrifyingly humbling, it doesn’t mean it’s God’s no-better-idea. It is in fact His best, so I am not without hope. (Just because I want to scream and have a tantrum right along with my children doesn’t mean I’m not still going to keep them and myself walking forward, because I know I can and I know I will. I’m just HATING IT. At this point.)
Interestingly, one of the things I am struggling with the most is the loss of my independence as an adult. I miss being in charge of things one usually takes for granted – groceries, diet, decor, space, rules, organization, calendar, TIME. I miss being able to pour myself a glass of wine after I’ve put my kids to bed and just doing something FOR MYSELF. It absolutely sucks.
But then I challenge myself with what I’m really saying, because the truth is I don’t want to be reliant on anyone ever – not even God. I want God to give me a way forward where I won’t have to be so constantly on my knees asking for forgiveness, strength, grace, direction and provision. I want a bit of a straight run. A bit of a “I’ve got this now, thanks Lord. We’re out of Egypt. I’m going to get us comfy and then I’ll check back in.”
HA! How wise the Lord is. If He’d given me the Country Club lifestyle would my faith resemble in any way what it is today? Of course not, I know myself. I’d be a good-person-Christian. A church-on-Sunday and giving-to-Charity and doing-the-right-thing sort of Christian. Not a down-on-my-knees-bloodied-bruised-stripped follower of Christ crying out, “You’ve got to get this, Lord, because I can’t do it! I trust You! I need You! I’ve put all my chips on YOU! I LITERALLY CANNOT GET THROUGH TODAY IF YOU’RE NOT WITH ME. Fill me with Your strength, Your hope, Your truth, Your life, Your joy, Your peace.”
All of which are the genuine article – REAL strength, hope, truth, life, joy, peace.
So yes I hate my loss of independence and I hate this perilous crossing over from my old life of bondage into my new life of freedom. But I wouldn’t trade it for the life I have in Him.
When the Israelites got through the Red Sea they went into the wilderness. I’m going to skip that, I hope. But then when they did finally get to the Promised Land they had to fight for it. Good grief, did the struggle never end? Will mine?
And the answer is no. Because in the struggle is the life, the hope, the peace, the truth, the joy. The life that constantly keeps eternity in mind. The life that cries out “All for You, Lord!” not “All for me!” because His plan is better than any I could come up with — and He has proven that to me over and over and over again.
So now I’ve finally written a blog, I’m not calling it “Crossing the Red Sea” or “Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth.” I’m calling it “Taking Names”. Because this Promised Land when we reach it is not one we’re called to simply receive but to conquer. So I’m going to take it, I’m not going to be afraid of it and I’m not going to wait for it to come to me.
When these seas are behind us, I’m going to enter this Promised Land not as a victim of my past, but as the victor of my purposed, planned and prepared future. The God who has promised me land is a God who loves me and has brought me HERE. Through Him I’ve got this far so, with Him, what can stop me now?
As my children have struggled with new schools, new schedules, new home dynamics and new friendships this week, I’ve told them in the quiet following tears (and as much to myself), “Are we under these circumstances or over them? We are over them. We are children of the King and we are purposed to be a blessing wherever we go. We’ve got stuff to do. So don’t let anyone put you down. You go into that school tomorrow and let your spirit cry out, “I’m here! And I’m coming! I’m a child of the King and He has promised me this land so get ready! I’m here to be blessed and to be a blessing! How are you today?”
Yes, we’re going to be kicking ass and taking names. Because that’s the plan God has for us at the end of this ghastly sea crossing.