Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trusting God in a Tempest

The people of Israel, when surrounded by the enemy, said fearfully to Moses:

“Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

~Exodus 14:12 (NRSV).

Fear is such a generalised word. We can only imagine the people of the Exodus; exposed to Pharaoh and his Egyptian marauders, impinged by a firestorm tempest within their minds, vulnerable to the imminence of death.

Crushing fear had blinded them to the truth; the Lord’s inimitable Presence was ever with them on this bountiful escape from captivity. But, they weren’t there yet.

The trickiest gamble about faith is trusting God when it seems illogical to do so. The realities of God are quickly forgotten in panicked trials.

Yet, this reality is enduringly compelling:

The Unfailing Presence of the Lord

“The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”

~Exodus 13:21-22 (NRSV).

Such visible signs of God’s Presence! As we reflect, we don’t have the same luxuries these days but we do have the Holy Spirit.

The commonalities between this Word and ours prevail by the fact of God’s Presence. This fact is one littered throughout both Old and New Testaments. We’re reminded over and again, we have nothing less than the full and focused witness of God in all our circumstances. Nothing is hidden from the sight of the Lord.

We do well to remember this; but not only does God see everything that occurs to us, the Lord knows already what our needs are; only our best is planned for, even if that involves the sin of untellable atrocities against us. How amazing that God can engineer such victories out of such dire defeats! Even more amazing that the will of God bends things this way, just for us, when we obey by the trust of faith.

In our tempests-of-spirit we watch for the cloud by day and the fire by night — God ever leading in front of us by the quiet though irrefutable Holy Spirit.

In Panic, Be Still!

Continuing from verse 12 at top, Moses responds to the people of Israel:

“Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

~Exodus 14:13-14 (NRSV).

What confident words! In context, the Israelites would have been tempted to seriously doubt the wisdom and vision of Moses, their leader. How could he afford to be so confident? Well, he knew — and he trusted, what’s more — the character of the Lord to follow through with Divine promise.

We know, too, that once we start on a certain track — unless it’s clear that it’s forlorn — we best continue. We keep going!

We plough on through the driving tempest, heads tilted down and eyes squinted for protection in our determined gait.

But the exemplification of faith, here, required the Israelites to simply stand still. The action was simpler than anyone could have envisaged. We know this when we have equivalent challenges; just the very effect of panicked thought. We might not physically run out of the way, but the effect of our fearful behaviour means that we’re definitely not standing still.

When we’re livid for answers it’s best to just stop; take stock.

We’re told that God will fight for us, but realistically we don’t believe it until we take faith and expect to see it; then, ‘magically’, it happens as God promised it always would.

Faith proves itself only in the moment of brave trust; to go on past the fainting; to view the evidence of God’s faithfulness in plain sight.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Jim Worrall, tempest-over-the-ocean.


Mystic_Mom said...

Be still. Don't run around, don't jump up, don't be sucked into the' I gotta do something' routine. Be still. Let God. Wow...what a great post and a great reminder that, when looking back, the times I stood still long enough to let God lead amazing things happened. Thanks Steve!

S. J. Wickham said...

God bless you, Shanyn. Thanks again for stopping by. Yes, that 'I gotta do something' routine is an ever compelling one to resist via surrender, only to the Holy Spirit's calming assurance.