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:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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