Thought for the Week - 24th JuneHelen Watkins
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up
and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them.
They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses,
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?
Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt?
What have you done to us?
Why did you make us leave Egypt?
Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?
We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians.
It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
In this chapter, the children of Israel have left Egypt. They reach the red sea and realise they can’t go any further. The Egyptian army are fast approaching, and they don’t know what to do. They start to moan, groan and cry, and look to Moses to help them. They don’t know what to do.
They cried out to God and Moses, believing it would’ve been better to have died a peaceful death in Egypt. They were afraid and looking for a miracle. They didn’t know which way to turn.
Then, as we know, God makes a way. He tells Moses to put his staff into the water, which opens. They walked over on dry land. Not a stone was wet. Logically, if you scoop out water out of a rock beds, there would be wet stones. But this was dry land! They didn’t slip and they didn’t fall.
The Lord said to Moses (verse 15) “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” God has such a sense of humour! We understand the holiness, perfection and reverence of God, but here we also understand His character. It’s what we would say to our children – get on!
We read that He hardened the Egyptians hearts. They had trouble with their chariots, and the wheels came off.
They had seen this miracle. And as they got over safely to the other side, they begin to sing the song of Moses, a song of deliverance:
“I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The Lord is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters gushed over them;
they sank to the bottom like a stone.
It was the right song but it was on the wrong side!
That had never struck me before. We can dance and sing when we are on the right side, but what happens on the other side when things are looking bad and bleak? We’re not singing then – we’re crying out and moaning to God.
This the song God wanted to hear on the testing side. This is the song He wanted to hear when things were rough and when things weren’t looking good. Anyone can praise God after the victory has come. But what about when we face the darkness, hopelessness, and when we cannot understand the future? Are we singing then? Are we dancing and rejoicing?
It’s natural to fear. If we had been in the same situation, we wouldn’t have been rejoicing either. We’re only human. When we’re faced with a situation where it’s bleak and where we can’t see what’s ahead of us. Can we sing? Can we dance? Can we be full of the joy of the Lord? Or would we have waivered and failed.
Sometimes God brings us to these situations to test us. It’s hard for us to understand. He is a tender and loving Father. Each situation is for us. What each of us go through is for us. There has been a time of testing, and God has been testing us in different ways.
There is a time to weep. There is a time to have our fears revealed and come to Him. There is a time that they overcome us and we don’t know what to do.
We can understand the children of Israel not singing where they should have. We’re only human. God is God, is God. He can see the impossible situation, because sometimes He has ordained it, or He has brought it about.
We sometimes say God are you commanding or demanding that we pray and praise in an impossible situation? How can we praise in the situation where we’re losing a family member, or our house or our job. We don’t want to praise or rejoice. We have to make a death like decision in that time. We have to take the first step into that water. We have to take that first step by crying out to Him to make things right. In all honesty, where else do we go?
Who do we turn to? We go through so many wilderness experiences. We’ve seen things that have failed in our past. When we come to a new situation, it’s a new place in God. A new time, a new anointing, a new work in God.
There comes a time when we’ve heard sermons. There’s not an angle that hasn’t been made on dying to self and trusting in God. There comes a time when we have to take a step forward and take control.
Not I, but trust in God.
As Job (13:15) said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”. That’s the situation we sometimes find ourselves in. We’re being slayed, and yet we have to trust.
We keep coming back to the right song on the wrong side.
The world is demanding a song from Christians. The world is coming to us for answers and looking to us for answers. The world is looking to us for a new song.
Psalm 137: 1-4
Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept
as we thought of Jerusalem.
We put away our harps,
hanging them on the branches of poplar trees.
For our captors demanded a song from us.
Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn:
“Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!”
But how can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a pagan land?
The world is coming to us for a new song. But we’re saying we can’t sing – look at our situation, we’ve hung up our harps! Our eyes are looking inwards and we cannot see other people.
The people outside are coming us and asking to show us the peace that passes all understanding, that knows no bounds. Are we showing it? Are we showing God’s miracles in our lives? Are we showing that God is moving through us and doing a mighty work? We’re alright with our words, but is it coming out in our lives? Are these people seeing this song?
This generation is demanding a new song. The song we need to be singing is of assurance, peace, joy, and not being shaken in what we’re saying. We cannot profess one thing and do another. If our lives are not matching up in what God is asking us to do, we have no business telling another what they should be doing.
Out in the world they’re looking for a peace deep within them. The world has seen it all. They’ve seen their own miracles with medicine and science. So they’re not always looking for the miracles. But what they don’t get is peace. They don’t get the sense of God and a sense of Christ that cannot be replicated and can’t be counterfeited. The stillness and quietness that only God gives. The peace that comes deep within and calms our spirit deep inside. That is what the world cannot replicate. The world cannot give hope.
How can we sing and dance in the face of adversity? When everything is going wrong? When our lives are in tatters? This is where our Christian walk comes into being. It comes down to one thing – fixing our mind on Christ. To make our mind up. To rise up deep inside and cry out to God.
When we’re in our deepest, tormented, struggling self, there comes in us a cry out to God. Think of the hardest time in your life. Where things seem lost. When we can’t even pick our faces up, where we’ve been ground down. Where there’s no way back. It can only stem from here. The depth of God can only come from here – where we cannot lift our heads up. Because only God can take us through. Only God can save us.
God brings us back to a place. It’s not only because we’ve haven’t learnt a lesson or not done something etc. I don’t know why God brings us back to a moment. He wants us to just trust. Ye how I slay you, yet will you trust me?
The children of Israel in Babylon were in a desperate place. They’d known the hand of God and He had brought into slavery. We’re are still in slavery today – we’re in chains to this world. A part of us yearns for the things of the world, an easy life.
It comes from one thing, and that is fear. We are afraid to trust God. We’re happy to come to certain point in our lives, we’re happy to bring certain things to God. But there’s part of us we won’t let Him touch because we’re afraid. We’re afraid to let Him reach into the innermost part of us. We’ll allow God no further. It’s easy to go to church and do the right things. We’re good, obedient children. But God wants more for us.
I don’t know what’s ahead. I know that Churches are closing. Christians are becoming fewer. Gatherings are becoming fewer. The world is so attractive. The call is going out time and time again, to go down deeper. To put our roots down. To cry out to God. We’ll only go so far, the call goes out again. We’ll only go so far, the call goes out again. The call will continue to go out.
When the call goes out it would be lovely to thing that a net would go out and drag us all back in. But what happens is the net goes out and only one or two come back in. That is why the net needs to go back out time and time again.
God doesn’t give up. He has a plan and purpose for you. He saved you for a plan and a purpose. He gave you new life for a plan and a purpose. We have to thank God that he doesn’t give up on us!
We need to learn how to stand in the face of adversity. We need to understand the trials. We need to take authority in our lives. We need to learn how to fight these things that come against us. When the enemy is pouring adversity on us, where’s our first port of call? Do we think “oh God I’m not going to let this fear stand in my way? I’m not going to let the enemy rob, steal and destroy?”
God will use different things to bring us back into subjection to Him. The sooner we learn the better. But we don’t learn. Our intellect gets in the way, our stubbornness, and our hard heartedness. God knows and God understands. Thank God He takes each one of us as individuals, and knows every single part of us. The biggest thing that gets in the way is us. We need to stand back and allow God to do His work through us.
We need to learn to start resisting the enemy. Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). Ask God how to resist. This is where our prayer and our reading life come back into question. What do we bring before God? Ask Him what to do.
We are the biggest idol of all. We’ve gone our own way for so long. But God in His mercy asks us small things until He brings us in.
Conquer fear. Begin to learn how to conquer things in ourselves through God, by going to God. Go to Him with it and ask Him what to do with it. Pray against the spirit of fear.
He wants us to do more. He wants to move in us and through us. He wants to do more. He wants us to learn how to fight in the dark times.
He wants us to sing the right song on the right side.