On the Edge of Impossibility

During the Exodus, the Israelites faced a life-threatening dilemma. Fleeing Egypt, the Egyptian army— close behind with 400 chariots—forced them to the edge of the Red Sea. The waters were too deep to cross with their families, livestock, and goods.

They were trapped.

The people railed against Moses, the leader who brought them to these overwhelming odds. Was he a lunatic? Did he lead them out of Egypt for them to be slaughtered now? They cried out to God in their distress.

Moses, as God’s mouthpiece, responded with three short encouragements.

            Don’t be afraid.

            Stand firm.

            Be still.

Confident of the Lord’s strength, Moses continued. “You will see His deliverance. And you will never see these Egyptians again.”

Don’t be afraid—stand firm—be still. You will see. On their own, nothing within the Israelites could elicit this response. They needed faith of gargantuan proportions to get to this place of quiet trust.

Then, as if to contradict Moses, the Lord spoke. “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

In the middle of their anguish, God commanded them to take the first step of faith. To move on—to go forward, to advance, to proceed with their journey. Right into the waters they feared.

Surely they would drown and all would be lost.

Isn’t this story just like our lives? Faced with an impossibility, we rail against God as if he was a heavenly prankster who delighted in fiendish plots to test our faith. If we get quiet enough to hear, we find the same encouragements in Scripture that Moses gave the people of old.

Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10
Stand firm, then, and don’t be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

These messages challenge us to be fearless in the face of adversity. To stand firm despite trying circumstances. To be still when bombarded with anxious thoughts. We know we can’t do that on our own—only God’s power can enable us to respond this way.

Then, just like the Israelites, we hear one more command:

Why are you crying out to me? Move on.”

 In Job 17:9 we read, “The righteous keep moving forward . . .” They keep moving despite their fear. Despite their misgivings and arguments and realities. Phil 3:13 states, “Forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what is ahead . . .” They don’t look back, letting the past paralyze them.

And the unknown future doesn’t stop progress.

At the right time, the Israelites took the next step into the Red Sea of impossibility. And, as they did, the waters parted. “Moses, 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.”

When the waters drew back, the ground was dry. This was part of the miracle, often overlooked. They don’t get stuck in the muddy sea-bottom. Their walk of faith is on firm, hard ground. Applied to our own circumstances, we too walk on dry ground— the path of his will—one step at a time.

What can you trust him with today in your land of difficulty? Are you hard-pressed, fearing and crying out on your journey? The Lord our God is the same God who delivered his people as they walked out in faith—and learned to believe.

Only don’t be afraid.

Stand firm.

Be still.

And move on—knowing the one who is leading the way.