I read a book on Birth Order Theory. If I said this aloud while Thomas was in the room, you would immediately hear him sigh, roll his eyes, and emit a small chuckle. I have been applying what I learned all too frequently, not so much as as statement of fact but more as a mode of analysis or conversation filler.
I found out much, and I frequently laughed at how I, along with others, fit the characteristics. One thing I discovered about my position as the baby of a family (I also fit into some first born characteristics thanks to being the first girl in my family) is that a baby can be on top of the world one day and at the bottom of the ladder the next. It is just in our genes. We go from Happy-Go-Lucky to Debbie Downer at the drop of a hat. So, when I was studying up for the Sunday School lesson I was teaching, I identified with the Israelites.
The Israelites had been rescued from Egyptian slavery thanks to the Lord. They were on top of the world, free from what once enslaved, yet they soon met a new obstacle when the Egyptian army began to pursue. At the formidable sight, the people of Israel “…were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 14:10b) Next, they began hurling complaints toward their scapegoat Moses, asking him if he only brought them out of Egypt to be ensnared again unto death:
Exodus 14:11 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
From Cloud 9 of freedom to a pit of expected death in an instant. The Isralites must have been last borns, a big bunch of babies.
Moses quickly, and perhaps uncharacteristically, responded with the following:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Go back and read that one again, folks. I’ll wait.
I especially love this line: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Isn’t that an encouraging bit of news? The Lord is fighting this fight, just trust and be still.
After a solid and encouraging response to the people, Moses seems to rethink this burst of confidence. He begins to talk this over with God, as he feels an army breathing down his neck. Again, we see a movement from the top, full of fortitude, to the dumps, full of doubt. Then, Moses cries out to the Lord, receiving in verse 15 this response:
“Why are you crying out to me?…”
(insert sound of tires screeching to a halt here) What?? God said that when His chosen servant cried out to Him? Well, yes, He did, and He added a few more lines as well:
“…Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”
Now, don’t take this Godly response wrong, my friends. It is not a retort of unconcern. In fact, the Lord is beyond concerned with this situation. These are His people; He does not wish them harm……He just spent a lot of time and energy trying to get them free. Instead, this reply is one that simply says “You know what to do. I have called you by name, you are mine. I am fighting this fight and I do not intend to lose. You are safe. You’ve been equipped for this seemingly insurmountable task. Get out of the pit; recover that top of the world feeling. Just do it my child, claim it. No need to cry, just claim it.”
When you cry out, God hears. He may answer you with a verbal word of encouragement from a friend or He may be that still small voice in your heart. But please know He heard. And upon hearing, He smiles, knowing He has it all planned out. It may look scary and it may be painful, but He’s got an answer to your cry. Actually, it is more than an answer, it is a way of dry land, just like He gave the Israelites. Even after pulling back the waters so that the people could pass through to safety from Pharaoh’s Army, He didn’t make them trudge through mud. Alternatively, He gave them dry land. What a way to travel!
Remember though, after the cries, the moment of rescue did not happen immediately. Truthfully, it had been a long preparation, for they had been enslaved for some time. Upon the journey after Passover, after the slurs toward Moses and the pleas to God, the waters did recede enough for Israelite passage…..but it took all night:
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
Not so much like the Charleston Heston version is it? They had to do exactly what Moses advised, standing firm, being still, and accepting the Lord’s deliverance as He fought the fight. Imagine the emotions that night as the people waited for those waters to peel back enough. Do you think they were on a high or a low? I’m not sure what place on the last born quick shift of emotion spectrum they might have been on that night, but I do know that when they passed through on that dry land and saw the enemy consumed and conquered, they knew their cries were heard and they walk on in high spirits thanks to what the Lord had done.
If you feel in a pit, cry out and recall Israel….and while you at it, take a listen to an amazing song that just says all of the above in an inspirational mode: