A Divine Predicament

 “Watch for the storms of God.  The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms.”

Oswald Chambers
“Alaska is where you can’t get off the plane because there is a polar bear between you and the terminal.”

Exo 14:2-4 NLT “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.

A friend recently posted on Facebook, the picture of the polar bear on the runway. The caption read, “Alaska is where you can’t get off the plane because there is a polar bear between you and the terminal.” I had a good laugh when I saw this. Of course, if you were the one wanting to get off that plane, it would be no laughing matter! I think this is how the Israelites felt. The Red Sea was standing between them and their longed-for freedom. And the pillar of cloud was all that was standing between them and the army of the Egyptians, who wanted desperately to stop them.

The Israelites had just miraculously left Egypt in a God-led kind of way. Having experienced their first Passover, and having been laden down with a whole bunch of the Egyptian’s stuff, clothing, and articles of silver and gold, all kinds of things they would later need. They were looking for the fastest route back to the Promised Land.  But when Pharaoh finally said GO, God led his people in a much longer and roundabout way.  Knowing that if they went the shortest route, they would encounter so much resistance by the enemy that they would quit their journey to freedom.

God told Moses to lead the people to camp between Migdol and the Sea.  He told them, The Egyptians will think you are trapped and will chase you, but don’t worry I have planned this to display my glory.  God’s very own people were to be the bait, the sitting-ducks for Pharaoh’s army to chase into and then across the Red Sea.  YIKES! 

Tom and I were in Hilton Head a few months ago for a fun little getaway. We brought our bikes and spent a lot of time riding them. One afternoon we took a meandering ride around the island. When we got to the farthest part of our ride, storm clouds all of a sudden overtook the sky. We were in for a bad storm, and we had nowhere to go to get out of its wrath. So, what choice did we have but to hunker down, make a little camp and wait it out. In a sense we would become sitting-ducks; hoping lightning wouldn’t strike where we sat.

Do you feel like God is making you camp in a place that doesn’t feel safe, and is not of your choosing? Does it feel like storm clouds and lightning are coming your way? Like a polar bear is standing in the way of where you want to go? Anyone who follows Jesus closely and is obedient to his assignments will have this feeling at some time.

For me, this describes how I am feeling right now.  A bit like a “sitting-duck” stuck between, “Migdol and the Sea!”  A… “just published” sitting-duck!  If you have gone through the process of publishing a book, making your words open to the “world” you know exactly what I am talking about.  I am not sure how some authors just keep churning out books. It is an emotionally demanding and draining process!  

For most of us, we are feeling a bit like sitting ducks with a virus all around us trying to make its way into our personal world…and we are wondering, how God will this end? It isn’t an easy or comfortable feeling to have to wonder about things that just weeks ago were not even in our scope of worry. But here we are sitting and waiting to see how God is going to move on our behalf.

Being trapped between Migdol and the Sea is an uncomfortable place to be.  But isn’t this often where we find ourselves?  Waiting in an uncomfortable yet obviously divine predicament?  Have you been there- wondering how God is going to reveal himself?  Wondering if this could possibly be where God wants me? Could this predicament be right? Could this really be what God has in mind? Maybe you are out on a limb for God, and the limb is feeling a bit shaky and unsure?  Maybe you can feel the panic welling up inside of you? So much uncertainty in the world, producing so much worry.

Did you know that as soon as the Israelites saw Pharaoh’s army coming, they panicked?  They totally freaked out.  Guess what? The Hebrew people were human! We are not alone in this response, it is the default response for all human beings..  Just like the Egyptians, we would often times rather be “slaves” than be in a scary predicament.  But Moses said these words to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Ex 14:13-14)

I imagine over the centuries, many believers in Jesus have clung to these very words. I certainly have. Today, no matter the divine predicament we find ourselves in; no matter what predicament the world is in; remember these words, “The Lord himself will fight for you.  Just stay calm.”

God wants us to learn how to follow him and put down our demanding selves — to calm that screaming child in us. One way he helps us do this is to say, “Wait.” That miserable, uncomfortable, sometimes painful state of silence is one of God’s most powerful tools to set us free. John Piper

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