The Long and Winding Road

“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be” ~Paul McCartney (The Beatles)

Released on May 8, 1970, The Beatles came out with their twelfth and final album titled, Let It Be,” almost a month after the group’s break-up (source here). Three weeks after it’s release, I turned 18. And it has been a long and winding road (a title of a song on that album–YouTube video here) ever since then.

It took forty eight years for me to learn a little fact about The Beatles’ title song, “Let It Be” (YouTube video below) that I just found out about yesterday. In the lyrics to the song, Paul McCartney mentions twice “Mother Mary,” and I always thought it was a Catholic religious reference to the mother of Jesus. Turns out that’s not it at all. Paul McCartney’s mother’s name was Mary McCartney, and the “Mother Mary” he refers to in the song is his own mother. How about that, sports fans (or should I say, “music fans”) . . . 🙂

According to McCartney, the song’s reference to “Mother Mary” was not biblical. The phrase has at times been used as a reference to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, McCartney explained that his mother–who died of cancer when he was fourteen–was the inspiration for the “Mother Mary” lyric. He later said: “It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing ‘Let It Be’.” He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him, “It will be all right, just let it be.” When asked if the song referred to the Virgin Mary, McCartney has typically answered the question by assuring his fans that they can interpret the song however they like. (Quote source here.)

The opening phrase to the song, “Let It Be,” is “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be.'” Well, we’ve all found ourselves in trouble from time to time, haven’t we? And James 1:2-12 (NLT) gives us the solution:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

And the Apostle Paul, who was in prison at the time he wrote the following, tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

One doesn’t live a long time without discovering that we travel down a lot of different roads in life, and some take us in very unexpected places we never dreamed we’d be (whether good or bad places). The road I’ve traveled for the past decade certainly wasn’t one I ever expected to be traveling. Yet for those of us who aren’t skeptical about God, we know, as Romans 8:28 (NIV) reminds us:

…That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

And that James 4:13-14 (NIV) reminds us:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Life is fragile, and the road is long and winding. Regardless of the situations we might find ourselves in right now, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV) reminds us to let love rule in our lives, no matter what is going on:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails….

Life lived out as a Christian looks very different from what we see in our everyday world. GotQuestions.org gives us insight into what the life of a Christian looks like:

The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:11). The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s (2 Corinthians 5:17). He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk [2:4]: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end (Ephesians 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” The true believer is one who believes to the end.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own. (Quote source here).

We may not know where the road is taking us, but as Christians we know the God who is taking us there, and He already knows what lies ahead. As Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us, we need to Trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding . . .

In all our ways acknowledge Him . . .

And He shall . . .

Direct our paths . . . .

YouTube Video: “Let It Be” by The Beatles:

Photo #1 credit here
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An Ongoing Journey

“The real key is the direction you’re heading, not the distance you’ve traveled or the place you’ve reached.” ~David Powlison

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “sanctification”? In an article published in 1984 titled, How the Spirit Sanctifies (see Romans 15:14-21) by John Piper, pastor, author, founder and leader of desiringGod.org, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, he writes:

“Sanctification” is a very irrelevant word, but it is not an irrelevant reality. It’s like a hundred technical medical terms. Nobody but doctors use them, but your life depends on the reality they stand for. “Sanctification” comes from two Latin words: sanctus which means holy, and ficare which means make. So to sanctify means to make holy. But, of course, the word “holy” isn’t much more relevant today than sanctification—what with “holy mackerel” and “holy cow” and “holy buckets”—we’ve just about ruined one of the highest and most valuable words in the Bible.

I don’t think there is any point in trying to invent new words for these old realities. It would take too long and by the time the new words got established people would already be using them for a banged finger. Instead, I think we should dig into the minds of the biblical authors until we see the reality they were talking about when they said “sanctified.” And then, whether we use their word or not, we should make sure of the reality behind the word “sanctification.” You don’t ever have to use the word “insulin,” but if you are a diabetic, your life may depend on the reality. You may never have heard of the word hyperopia, but you won’t be able to read unless you get glasses to correct it.

As irrelevant as the word sanctification may be where you work and in your neighborhood, the reality is very crucial, very contemporary, and very relevant. Suppose you’ve always concealed private sources of income when filling out your tax returns. Then you come to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and begin to tell the truth on your tax returns—that’s sanctification. Suppose you’re always on your husband’s case, and then the Word of God pricks your conscience and you begin to preach less and look for ways to show respect—that’s sanctification. Suppose you’re sleeping with your girlfriend, and you meet Jesus Christ and get the courage to move out—that’s sanctification.

There are living images of sanctification in our world today which are more real, more authentic than all the people put together who think sanctification is passé… Malcolm Muggeridge takes Mother Teresa as an example:

I think a person like her comes into the world, not by chance, and radiates the Christian faith at its most simple, most pure, most effective level. She takes any baby that is given to her and looks after it. She brings in dying people from the streets who might live for only a quarter of an hour. When they leave this life with a loving Christian face beside them instead of one of rejection, she would say that it is well worth it. She is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the age—abortion is a horror to her, and all the attitude of mind associated with it. (Eternity, April 1984, p. 27)

When a young woman living in the security and comfort of middle class Western society moves to Calcutta in obedience to Jesus, that is sanctification, and it is not irrelevant. Don’t let the irrelevance of the word mislead you. The reality is immensely important. (Quote source here.)

In a second article published on November 2, 2017, titled, Play the Long Games of Sanctification,” by David Powlison, PhD., executive director of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) and a council member of The Gospel Coalition, he writes:

Christians often misunderstand sanctification. Many view it as a goal that must be attained. You’re “sanctified” only when a certain level of holiness is reached. This isn’t entirely false—there is, in fact, an absolute goal. The Bible tells us that when we see Jesus face to face, we’ll be like him. You’ll be entirely characterized by trust, love, joy, humility, and every good fruit. First John 3 urges us to purify ourselves because of the hope found in becoming like Christ on the day of his return.

However, while sanctification will one day be complete, right now it’s an ongoing process. It’s a journey, not a destination. The real key is the direction you’re heading, not the distance you’ve traveled or the place you’ve reached.

Sanctification actually starts when God claims you as his own. You are “chosen, holy, and beloved” (Col. 3:12). But the process of becoming what you are starts as you make a turn from sin toward God.

Imagine the vilest possible human being—violent, immoral, drunken, lazy, and profane. Such men and women, caught in such evil, can come to a moment when sanctification begins. They realize their sin. They become sick of their life and desire something different. They start to look in the direction of mercy. They turn to Christ. God makes them his own, and they begin walking in the direction of light.

During my first months as a Christian, I had a friend who showed me God’s patient power in sanctification. He was in his late 30s and had been a Christian for 10 years. Before that, he’d lived a life of immorality from his early teens on through his 20s. He told me, “If you could divide your mental and behavior life into a thousand moments per day, 900 of mine were immoral.” He said, “When I turned to Christ, I found mercy, I became a Christian, and I received the Holy Spirit. But, 900 immoral thoughts and behaviors each day did not immediately become 0. It became 700, which then became 500, and 500 became 100, and 100 became an occasional moment of lust of the eyes. I learned to rejoice in God’s grace with me, that his love is both patient and persistent,”

Great healing had taken place in the area of his sexuality—but he wasn’t perfect and was still on a journey of sanctification. He sought to be transparent with his wife, accountable to several men, and committed to walking in the light.

While my friend experienced sanctification in the area of his sexuality, this kind of change can take place with any sin. Whether your moral failings be sexual sin, anxiety, gossip, complaining, or anger, change is possible by the grace of God.

Recognize that sin won’t be cleansed from your life at conversion, and wiped away at the snap of a finger. Turning from larger sins that have more public and obvious consequences, such as going to jail, may actually be easier. But turning from “smaller” sinful impulses takes a lifetime.

Sin will slowly die throughout our journey of sanctification as we walk in the direction of Christ and repeatedly come to him in repentance and trust. The “quantity” of our sanctification isn’t important. We’re simply called to walk in the direction of Jesus.

We must be cautioned against comparing the speed of different sanctification journeys. For some, the entanglement with sin is much deeper, and they face repeated temptation in their lives. Those who deeply struggle with sin should be encouraged at even small steps in the right direction. By turning to God for his mercy, they have begun the process of sanctification.

God calls us to be holy as he is holy—this is the highest imaginable bar. Christ’s vision for our sexuality is simple—and lifelong. Seek to become like him in holiness. Repent of your sins and turn to him to be washed. Seek his strength to protect you and change you. His life purpose is your sanctification.

However far you’ve traveled on your journey, what matters most is the direction you’re walking.

This is an adapted excerpt from David Powlison’s new book, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken” (Crossway). (Quote source here.)

Sanctification is an ongoing process and an ongoing journey through life. As David Powlison stated at the end of his article, “However far you’ve traveled on your journey, what matters most is the direction you’re walking.” So…

Keep . . .

Walking . . .

Forward . . . . 

YouTube Video: “All Things New” by Hillsong Worship:

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Moving Forward

“I have found that if we go as far as we can, God often opens up the rest of the way.” ~Isobel Kuhn, (1901-1957), missionary to China

In my last blog post, The Journey Out,” I mentioned a small book titled, The Red Sea Rules,” by Robert J. Morgan, teaching pastor at The Donelson Fellowship. In his book, he gives us ten strategies or “rules” for dealing with difficult times in our journey through life that come from the story of the Red Sea crossing which is found in Exodus 14.

As the story unfolds, it was “an action of God at the time of the Exodus that rescued the Israelites from the pursuing forces of Egypt. According to the Book of Exodus [Chapter 14], God divided the waters so that they could walk across the dry seabed. Once they were safely across, God closed the passage and drowned the Egyptians” (quote source here). It looked like an impossible situation. Behind the Israelites was the Egyptian army of Pharaoh (with over 600 chariots) quickly approaching, and in front of them was the Red Sea. It looked like there was no way out, and that the army would end up slaughtering them. Exodus 14:10-31 (MSG) tells the story:

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

“Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase—I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The sea waters split.

The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea. It was now the morning watch. God looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.

The Egyptians said, “Run from Israel! God is fighting on their side and against Egypt!”

God said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots, over their horsemen.”

Moses stretched his hand out over the sea: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the sea returned to its place as before. God dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh’s army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians. And Israel looked at the Egyptian dead, washed up on the shore of the sea, and realized the tremendous power that God brought against the Egyptians. The people were in reverent awe before God and trusted in God and his servant Moses.

We have all faced situations that seem impossible at times. And in this story, the Israelites had no idea how they were going to get out of this mess with the Egyptian army on their heels and the Red Sea in front of them and nowhere else to go, and they were terrified. Never did they imagine what God was about to do. While frozen in fear, God told Moses to tell them to “get moving” (vs. 15). And as Moses raised his staff to the sea, it began to part so that they could walk through the sea on dry ground.

Red Sea Rule #6 in The Red Sea Rulesstates, “When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith” (page 65). Well, if you’re like me, sometimes you aren’t even sure what “the next logical step” is that you need to take! Morgan writes the following:

On the despairing shores of the Red Sea, the Israelites couldn’t see what was in the distance. They had no binoculars that could view Canaan or even the opposite shore. But the Lord gave them a simple plan: “tell the children of Israel to go forward.”

The 19th Century expositor C. H. Mackintosh believed the Red Sea did not divide throughout all at once, but opened progressively as Israel moved forward, so that they needed to trust God for each fresh step. Mackintosh wrote, “God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependence upon God.”

It is axiomatic that God generally leads His children step-by-step, provides for us day by day, and cares for us moment by moment.

The pillar of cloud led them forward day by day (Nehemiah 9:19 TLB, emphasis added).

Day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me (Psalm 42:8 TLB, emphasis added).

Your strength shall be renewed day by day like morning dew (Psalm 10:3 TLB, emphasis added).

Give us day by day our daily bread (Luke 11:3 NKJV,, emphasis added). [And if our daily bread, then our daily work. Our daily plans. Our daily opportunities.]

The Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments until to the LORD (2 Chron. 30:21 KJV, emphasis added).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16 NKJV, emphasis added). (Quote source: The Red Sea Rules,” pp. 67-68.)

Morgan continues on page 69 stating:

Whenever I haven’t known what to do, I’ve just tried to do what comes next, to take the next logical step by faith. I’ve decided that sometimes plodding is better than plotting when it comes to finding God’s will, and I’ve often been encouraged by the word of this much-loved hymn:

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or fear.
~Day by Day by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg (1832-1903)

And in the footsteps of Jesus, neither do you. (Quote source: The Red Sea Rules,” p. 69.)

On pages 71-73, Morgan tells the story of a missionary in China named Isobel Kuhn (1901-1957) who was in China with her son, Danny, when the Communists took over China in 1949 (see The Chinese Revolution of 1949):

Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too. Live one day at a time” (Matt. 6:34 TLB).

When the Communists overran China, missionary Isobel Kuhn escaped on foot with her young son, Danny, across the dangerous snow-covered Pienma Pass. She finally arrived at Myitkyina in Upper Burma, but there she was stranded “at the world’s end” without money, unable to speak the language, and still half a globe away from home. “I cannot tell you the dismay and alarm that filled me,” she later wrote.

But in her perplexity, she made two decisions. “The first thing is to cast out fear,” she said. “The only fear a Christian should entertain is the fear of sin. All other fears are from Satan sent to confuse and weaken us. How often the Lord reiterated to His disciples, ‘Be not afraid!’ So Isobel knelt and spread her heart before Him. “I refused to be afraid and asked Him to case such fears out of my heart.”

Her second determination was to “seek light for the next step.” She had no idea how to get out of Asia, but with God’s help she could figure out what to do that day to provide food and funds, to find a safe place to stay, to find a means of communicating with the outside world.

Eventually she arrived back home, safe and sound, but it came by trusting God for guidance in small increments, taking the journey one footprint at a time.

When you don’t know what to do next, cast out fear and seek light for the next step. Trust God for guidance in small increments; and if you can’t see what lies dimly in the distance, do what lies clearly at hand. (Quote source: The Red Sea Rules,” pp. 71-73.)

So, what’s the next step if you’re in a situation right now where you have no clue what the next step is? Pray, and trust God for guidance moment by moment, step by step, and day by day . . .

Cast out fear . . .

And seek light . . .

For the next step . . . .

YouTube Video: “Moving Forward” by Hezekiah Walker and LFC:

Photo #1 credit here
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The Journey Out

“The Lord will make a way for you where no foot has been before. That which, like the sea, threatens to drown you, shall be a highway for your escape.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon

One of the longest journeys ever recorded begins in the book of Exodus and doesn’t end until the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. It spans forty years. A brief definition of this journey is found at Dictionary.com:

The second book of the Old Testament; Exodus tells of the departure of the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, made possible by the ten plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red SeaMoses led them, and their destination was the Promised Land. God guided them by sending a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, to show them the way they should go. God also fed them with manna and gave them water out of a solid rock. Because of their frequent complaining and failure to trust him, however, God made them stay in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land. God gave them the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Mosaic law on Mount Sinai during the Exodus. Exodus is a Greek word meaning “departure.” (Quote source here.)

The story of the parting of the Red Sea, which is found in Exodus 14, happens at the beginning of this long journey. It was “an action of God at the time of the Exodus that rescued the Israelites from the pursuing forces of Egypt. According to the Book of Exodus, God divided the waters so that they could walk across the dry seabed. Once they were safely across, God closed the passage and drowned the Egyptians” (quote source here).

The other day I ran across a small book titled, The Red Sea Rules,” by Robert J. Morgan, teaching pastor at The Donelson Fellowship, where he has served for 35 years. He is also best-selling author and a regular contributor to The Huffington PostHere is a brief description of the book:

Just as Moses and the Israelites found themselves caught between “the devil and the deep Red Sea,” so are we sometimes overwhelmed by life’s problems. But God delivered the Israelites, and He will deliver us too. The Red Sea Rules reveals, even in the midst of seemingly impossible situations, God’s promise to make a way for us. His loving guidance will protect us through danger, illness, marital strife, financial problems–whatever challenges Satan places in our path. Using the Israelites’ story as an example, Robert Morgan offers ten sound strategies for moving from fear to faith. Among them: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord. Pray. Life is hard, especially for Christians. It is certain that we will face difficulties, and that God will allow them, as He allowed the Israelites to become trapped between Pharaoh’s rushing armies and the uncrossable Red Sea. But just as certain is the fact that the same God who led us in will lead us out. As The Red Sea Rules makes comfortingly clear, He is in control. (Quote source here.)

All of us find ourselves “sometimes overwhelmed by life’s problems” as Dr. Morgan states above. In his book, The Red Sea Rules,” he gives us ten strategies or “rules” for dealing with difficult times in our journey through life that come from the story of the Red Sea crossing. I’m not going to address those ten rules in this blog post (the book is available at this link and at other bookstores, too), but his preface to the book states the following:

“The Lord will make a way for you where no foot has been before. That which, like the sea, threatens to drown you, shall be a highway for your escape.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon

The Middle Eastern sun was down, the cold envelope of night having closed around Jerusalem. The streets of the old stone city were emptying as stragglers stumbled home. All over town, oil lamps yielded the last of their flickering lights and pungent odors, and embers lay dying in hearths.

But in a tiny room near the temple, a man named Asaph was awake, sitting blanket enfolded on the edge of a small bed. His world was in ruins, and though exhausted, he couldn’t sleep.

Finally he lit his lamp and started reading his Bible. His mind recalled the miracle at the Red Sea, the story of Exodus 14 when the waters parted, allowing the children of Israel to escape the pursuing armies of Pharaoh.

Asaph later recorded his thoughts in Psalm 77 where after describing his anguish, he turned his thoughts to the power of God in the days of old:

You made a way through the sea
    and paths through the deep waters,
    but your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock

    by using Moses and Aaron. (Psalm 77:19-20)

In that story–in that God–Asaph found overcoming strength.

Just think of it: the winds blew, the sea split, the waters congealed into towering walls, and the Israelites passed through dry-shod. This happened not for the entertainment value of the experience, but to prove to us in earth-shaking, history-making fashion that, even when we are most anxious and distressed, God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

I, too, am an Asaph. Not long ago I was flying from Athens to New York, dealing with a problem that had reduced me to a bundle of nerves. Someone I loved was in trouble, Gazing down on the choppy Atlantic, I asked God for His help, then opened my Bible. The day’s reading, as it happened, was Exodus 14.

The seat beside me was vacant, but as I began reading, I felt as though the Lord Himself were sitting beside me, tutoring me through the passage. My fingers reached for a pen, and I started scribbling.

As I worked through the chapter, ten rules unfolded like rubber life rafts; tn ways of handling dilemmas and discouragements–a divine protocol for handling life when we find ourselves caught between the devil and the deep Red Sea.

I spent the rest of the flight pondering my notes, and once home, I actively applied these principles to my problems. I found them then, as I’ve found them since, a powerful and effective strategy for coping with the messes and stresses of life.

These aren’t ten quick-and-easy steps to instant solutions. In my case, it took quite a while to work through the anguish and achieve a positive result. However, like Asaph, I found that Exodus 14 provides a biblical method to process difficulties by faith, in the light of God’s almighty presence, providence, promises, and power.

The Red Sea may roll before us; the desert may entrap us; the enemy may press on our heels. The past may seem implausible and the future impossible, but God works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way of escape for His weary, but waiting, children.

I [the Lord] will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19, KJV, emphasis added)

When you pray, keep alert and be thankful. Be sure to pray that God will make a way (Colossians 4:2-3, CEV, emphasis added)

The LORD will utterly . . . make a way to cross on foot (Isaiah 11:15, NRSV, emphasis added)

You can trust God. He will not let you be tested more than you can stand. But when you are tested, He will also make a way out so that you can bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13BECK–translation is not available online, emphasis added)

No sea is deeper than the ocean of His love. There is no army stronger than His hosts, no force greater than His throne of grace, no enemy who can overcome His direct and indirect work in our lives.

The reality of the Red Sea, in a word, is this: God will always make a way for His tired, yet trusting, children, even if He must split the sea to do it. (Source, The Red Sea Rules,” preface, pp. ix-xii.)

I did find a listing online of the ten rules with a very brief description of each on the website of Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. Click here to read the list. Of course, the book, The Red Sea Rules,” goes into greater detail on each of these ten rules.

God is always working behind the scenes in ways we simply cannot comprehend. Isaiah 55:8-9 states this clearly:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

When life get complicated, trust God to be in control, and remember what Exodus 14:14 states:

The Lord will fight for you . . .

You need only . . .

To be still . . . .

YouTube Video: “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship:

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