As a kid, I always wondered why the Israelites couldn’t get it right. God was providing food, clothing, and all of their needs. I couldn’t understand why they were constantly disobedient and doubting God. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the story of the Hebrew children moving into the promised land is an example of our lives. It’s very easy to find fault with others and not see the mirror reflecting back a picture of who we are.
Despite this Biblical story being recited for generations, we don’t see ourselves in this story. There are so many lessons for us today:
- “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt,’” Exodus 13:17-18.
Lesson 1: In my life, I know that when doors have closed, I became frustrated. I wanted God to answer my prayer in the way that I thought was best. God sees circumstances and situations we are often unaware of. We can see it as a door being closed when in reality, it is protection. Sometimes, we want the quick, short path to our destiny without realizing that we are not prepared for what we might face on that route. God doesn’t just respond with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Delays are not denials.
Facing conflicts can often cause us to have more faith in our fear. Is it possible that the journey you are presently on is not moving as fast as you’d like because God knows you will return to what he’s trying to move you out of? If things get too tense, you might abandon the call. Stay the course and allow God to lead you to your next.
- “By day, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people,” Exodus 13:20- 22.
Lesson 2: Even in our desert experiences, God protects us. God will go before us to guide us and gives us light if we choose to travel with it. God never leaves us. Even though God had delivered them from Egypt and demonstrated that He was with them, they doubted his ability when the trouble came.
Exodus 14:5-12 reveals that when the going gets tough, it’s easy to run back to what’s familiar, to run from what we know God said. The Egyptians decide to attack and go after the Israelites and instead of trusting God, they would rather go back to being oppressed than believing God for the greater. Don’t we do the same? We will return to situations that do not serve us well just because it is what we know. Instead we choose the familiar over our faith.
- “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 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,” Exodus 14:15-16.
Lesson 3: Sometimes we are crying out to God to fix things, to change our situation. Yet instead of moving forward and believing who God is, we doubt. God used Moses’ staff as a tool. Just as Moses had this in his hand, what’s in your hand that God has given you—is it a talent, an idea, a dream? And if you have it, why are you not using this tool to open the door to your freedom? God doesn’t move the obstacles in front of us but will grant us tools that can be used to open and move them aside.
The Book of Exodus is full of examples of God’s power and provision. Despite all of these opportunities to witness God’s greatness, they still doubted. And so do we.
My prayer for all of us: “I believe; help my unbelief,” Mark 9:24.
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the vice president of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit <drfroswa.com>.)