Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Page 29 of 95

Waiting for the Sea to Part

Fear Not!

Photo Courtesy Flickr: Neveen

A single breath, just like the one blown into Adam’s mouth that filled him with life. That’s how I’ve always imagined the parting of the Red Sea. A breath and suddenly the sea just split in two.

Just split. As if a miracle of that grandeur should ever be accompanied by the word “just.”

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I looked at Exodus 14 long enough to dispel my “just split” myth. I’m so glad I did, for in it I found myself. Perhaps you will, too.

You know the back story. Pharaoh just released the Israelites, whom he had used as slaves. They fled Egypt in the direction of the Red Sea. Their newfound freedom seemed short-lived as they realized they were trapped: the sea in front and Pharaoh and 600 of his best chariots behind.

The roar of panic rose, mixed with anger at Moses for leading them to a certain death. “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? 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!” (Exodus 14:11-12).

And then, the response I wrote about a few weeks ago that still has my head spinning (and my feet stopping!):

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.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14

But here’s where it gets even more remarkable: God told Moses he would use it for his glory and “then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long” (Exodus 14:19-20).

Are you picturing this? Both the angel of God and the pillar of cloud literally moved behind the Israelites, creating a very real barrier between them and the Egyptians.

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.” Exodus 14:21

“All that night.” There goes my breath theory and in comes something more powerful. But before I get to that, stop and think about what was happening: darkness and light separated God’s people from the ones who had enslaved them. A strong east wind roared all night long. Did the Israelites know what was happening? Could they see the waters piling up on themselves? Did the sound of wind hitting water sound more like the thing they feared, or more appropriately, the ones they feared? Did it sound like horses or armed men making their way towards them? Did their panic rise, or were their fears diminished?

I don’t know.

But here’s what I do know: by morning, they could walk across the sea on dry land. But I also know that a night can be a horribly long time when your enemies are close behind.

This is the story that causes tears to stream down my face and makes my knees buckle and hit the ground in praise. Perhaps it does for some of you, too, who have also been in bondage to something or by someone. Maybe you’ve also felt the thrill of freedom, those baby steps of fleeing captivity only to choke in panic as that thing suddenly came up behind with a wall in front.

Death or a life of bondage yet again? Those seem to be the only options, just like they were the only ones the Israelites could see.

But then, the barrier. Oh, we might not see it, for I dare say there is so, so much that happens on a spiritual realm that we are blind to. The protection. The winds, those strong forces that might make us think we’re being opposed when really its the very thing that will save us.

And the reason? To bring God glory.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “. . . I will gain glory” (Exodus 14:15-17, obviously excerpted, yet preserving the context)

Can’t you see it? A wall of water on the right. Another on the left. Perhaps the Israelites stretched their right arm to the standing water on that side, and their left to the other. Arms outstretched to the One who did it.

If the winds are blowing in your life or you’re waiting for the sea to part, are you willing to be still and let God fight on your behalf?

If your enemies are at your back, can you recognize God’s protection on you?

If you’ve encountered places that should be raging waters, yet you walked over the dry land, have you stopped to say thanks?

Oh, God. Words can’t express, but take our simple word of thanks–thank you for protecting those you love. Thank you for providing in ways that surpass our understanding. And thank you for using us in ways to bring glory to your name. We love you. Amen.

 

Got Prayer? A Chance to Give and Receive

I’m too excited about what I get to share to start with a cute little intro. We’re diving in. Hang on because I believe there is a tangible benefit to most everyone. Here goes:

Groundwire.

Yes, Groundwire.

It’s got my head spinning in excitement, but of course I’m getting ahead of myself. Coffee and enthusiasm have that effect on me.

It’s a ministry.

Geared primarily for teens. Unchurched teens, that is. Groundwire creates phenomenal videos and radio spots. You might have heard of some on K-Love or Way FM, but they’re also on secular media. They’re brief. Edgy. And they get people thinking.

So here’s where it gets really cool: Groundwire knows the way teens communicate. Everything is virtual these days, so that’s how they do it, too. People can click a button or go to a website to chat with someone if they want prayer or spiritual coaching.


How easy is that? You can just click the button above to “talk” to someone if you’re going through a rough patch, have questions, or just need prayer. Amazing!

But it gets even better! Groundwire relies on volunteers to staff the chat lines. They do an incredible job of training and offer continual support and then ask for about 2 hours/week. 2 hours!! Right now I’m thinking of the mom who has her hands dirty from changing diapers, the one who longs to remember she has a purpose outside of being a milk maid (and you do! Trust me, you do!!), the one who has started loosing herself somewhere along the way. Um, did my veil just slip away and I let you peek in to what was my reality? Anyways, 2 hours a week, anytime you want!

Wait! Before you click off knowing all of the reasons you CAN’T do this, let me share a bit more. I met a guy named Bruce a few weeks ago who is on staff with Groundwire. He said that at first he was petrified to do the chat thing, tremendously fearful that he would say the wrong thing and permanently mess up someone’s eternity.

Truth be told, he has.  Just not in the way he feared.

“I’ve led a handful of people to Christ in the last few months,” he said with a humble grin.

How insanely amazing is that? Click here if you’re interested in learning more about coaching. Click the button below if you want to chat and receive prayer.


I hope you’ll consider giving or receiving prayer.

Many blessings,

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The Strength of Joy

Courtesy Flickr: Rachel Titiriga

Courtesy Flickr: Rachel Titiriga

I’ve been reading through the book of Nehemiah again, one of those smaller books that probably gets skipped over, but I’ve grown to love. It’s a story filled with opposition, intimidation, threats (even against their very lives), accomplishment and joy. Yes, joy.

Honestly, I get all of the other attributes I listed. I relate to Nehemiah as I’ve felt the effects of people trying to tear me down. I bear the scars of feeling intimidated (even if–or dare I say especially so?–I am my own source of intimidation).

Yet I came across a verse this morning that we’ve heard so many times before, one that always makes me stop and wonder.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Joy I get. I know it isn’t happiness–that emotion that can come and go at will. Joy on the other hand is deep-seated. It overflows as a result of knowing something true and pure. Yet I can’t always make the connection between the joy of the Lord  and strength. Perhaps what is most perplexing to me is that this verse is found after the threats. After the opposition. After the Jews finished rebuilding the wall.

It would seem more logical to profess it beforehand, maybe even on the heals of hearing about those who strongly desired to frustrate the completion of the wall. Perhaps it could have been said in lieu of positioning half the work crew as guards.

Yet it wasn’t.

I’m sure that wasn’t by accident.

The joy of the Lord might not be our “get-out-of-jail-free” card. It might not be the promise that we’ll never have strife or heartache. In fact, it couldn’t possibly be so since Jesus himself said that the “Son of Man must suffer many things” (Mark 8:31).

So what’s the connection between the joy of the Lord and strength? I can’t say for sure, yet the context gives me a place to start my guessing from. I’ll admit that it’s a longer passage than I’d normally post, but the fact that they read the entire Book of the Law (the 1st five books of the Old Testament), puts it in proportion. Glean from what was said and done during the post-construction assembly:

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.

Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:2-10

Everyone listened attentively as the Bible was read to them. The Levites helped make the words clear so that everyone could understand what was being said. Mind you, this was long before the day when a surplus of Bibles lined our bookshelves, and internet search engines with ready explanations couldn’t even be conjured up.

As Ezra read the word, tears flowed. Perhaps they were tears of joy of being able to hear and understand God’s word. Most likely, they were tears of repentance as they realized what God’s standard was and how far they had drifted from it.

And then, “do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Maybe, just maybe, it refers to the strength to live more in line with what God desires: the strength to surrender personal desires and ambitions in order to do what God most desperately seeks from us. If that’s the case, then we could say that the joy of the Lord (of knowing and serving Him), gives us the strength to please Him, which then fuels the cycle because as we serve Him, we come to know Him even more.

Whatever it is, today I rest in joy and am strengthened by it. I pray you are, too.

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This post is somewhat inspired by Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt was joy, but I’m sure I wrote this in some factor of five minutesFive Minute Friday

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© 2017 Stacy Voss