I’m on a plane and so thankful that God gifted me an individual aisle seat this leg. I have my Bible and books all spread out like I mean serious business and am trying to get some studying done.
But my mind won’t turn off.
I’m watching the tiny lights of the world down below me in the darkness of these early morning hours and realizing that I’m heading back.
Back out, really.
Back out into the desert lands. The sandy dunes that hold my ankles hostage and make it hard for me to pick my feet up and trudge on. The rocky places that stub my toes and bring stinging winces to my face. And I’m not looking forward to it.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to study the book of Exodus and the exodus of God’s chosen people. And though I’ve made general points toward clips of their story in relation to mine, I’m deciding that God has placed me in a very metaphorical traipsing through their footsteps. And I’m conflicted as to how I feel about it.
In chapters 1-13, Moses draws back the curtain a bit and sneaks us a peek at the rescue of the Israelite people from the Egyptian’s slave-driving hands. The Egyptians are bad. God’s people are good. “Let My people go.” “No.” “No, really, let My people go.” Frogs. Bugs. Blood. Death Angels. And God’s people are on their way.
On their way into a world that would be unlike anything they had ever known. And would prove to be beautiful and remarkable and life-changing. If. If they would allow God to do His thing.
I get it.
My marriage was not perfect. Absolutely not. But it was all I knew. Looking back, I want to shake me. But, like the Hebrews, I knew it needed to be better than what it was, but really had no idea how to get it there. Because fear and change are hard to face, let alone do something about. And sometimes (alottimes) it’s easier to stay in the rut rather than climb out. The Egyptians hated slavery, but they never banned together and left (1:10 says that the Egyptians themselves feared that they would just up and leave, thus the infanticide of the baby boys).
Rut staying. Just means extra bondage for extra time.
Thankfully, though, God hears our cries for help. I didn’t groan under the burden of my marriage like the Hebrews did under their slavery, but my heart ached for the need for something more authentic.
For the Egyptians, they were rescued from their rut of slavery via a miracle baby turned murderer/doubter/coward by the name of Moses. Me? I was rescued by a wakeup call in the shape of an affair. (This is where I say that I KNOW God did not cause the affair to jerk a knot in my chain. But I know He used it. So let’s not dive into that theological debate here.)
Fast forward to the banks of the Red Sea.
The Hebrews have discovered that Pharoah and his army are angry as all get-out and hightailing it in pursuit of the people. The people who have just witnessed miracle after miracle, cringe in fear and spout off nonsense about just surrendering back to slavery to escape the uncertainty of the unknown and terror of death.
Again. I get it.
Last summer, I spiraled into self-destruction because it seemed safer to defer to absurdity than to courage. I clung to the hand of deception rather than the Hand of Truth.
Then God stepped in and gave the words to Moses and comforted both a gaggle of grouchy scared Israelites and a pathetic puddle of me.
No. I’m serious.
God threw Exodus 14:13-14 in my face again and again until it stuck.
Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do His work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians [the crumbling pieces of your old marriage] today for you’re never going to see them again. God will fight for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!
–from The Message
And so, I mustered what grains of bravery I could find, made a literal effort to keep my mouth shut with the husband, stepped carefully, and followed Him out into the unknown.
God parted the Red Sea, led the Hebrew people through, and demolished Egypt. God picked me up out of my deathbed, walked me out, and burned my old marriage to the ground. I couldn’t go back and have that marriage now if I tried. It’s gone.
I, like the Israelites, have stood on the other side and realized the tremendous power of God (14:31). I have sung joyful songs (chapter 15). And I have started the already daunting task of desert dwelling and navigation.
I’ve been hungry and thirsty. And God has already provided sweet mercy (15:22-25). I’ve complained and whined and cried out to God.
My husband is living life with someone else. I’ve been traded in. And set out on the curb for trash pickup. These waters are bitter. I’ve tasted Marah (15:22-25). Though sweetness has rained from Heaven’s Rock, I can sit for awhile and find the bitter taste still lingering in my mouth.
I’ve felt tested by God (15:26).
And, though it’s happened more than once over these months, God just recently (over the past few days) has gifted me with an oasis for rejuvenation (15:27).
And now I’m looking ahead into chapter 16 and noticing that the whining is starting up again.
I found myself not 2 hours ago sitting at the airport gate, moaning to the Lord about having to take a step out of oasis shade and put my foot back down into the hot wilderness sand again. The Wilderness of Sin (16:1). Oh, boy.
I’m not going to say that God will move me through the 40 years of Hebrew wanderings and wonderings in such the timeline as He has thus far. But He may.
Wow, if He does. Because there’s a lot of good, good stuff in my future.
But, I’m also scared. Because there is some not so good stuff in the next chapters of their tale. And I’m so ready to move out of this story, bypass the wilderness, and slide right on into the Promised Land. I’m hungry for milk and honey.
But one thing is for sure. Okay, maybe two things.
First… No matter what, the message is clear all through Exodus. Get over yourself; be brave; let God do His thing.
And, second… As beautiful as Ezekiel is to me, maybe my hope now is coming from Exodus.
Exodus gave me hope today.