Read: Exodus 14:1-31; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5-6
Each gardening year has its own unique pluses and minuses. For example, this year we didn't even put netting over the fruit trees. Why? Sadly, neither the apple trees or the peach tree developed any fruit that needed protecting. However, we did net most of the garden, and even though the net was pummeled with hail, it afforded the plants a good deal of protection, and a few days ago, having done its job, my husband took it down. Whether we are putting the covering over the trees or garden, my husband and I laugh because one of us is forever getting stuck in the net. His hat catches it or my hair ornament gets trapped, and I have to call for help, since I, once again, find myself unable to go either forward or backward. A humorous little pitfall to navigate around while putting up netting, but in no time at all, with my husband's help, I am "set free."
In today's reading from Exodus 14, we are reminded that the children of Israel found themselves in circumstances where they also were unable to go forward or backward. Unlike my laughable situation, they faced what surely looked to them to be insurmountable problems. Yes, I know that they had seen the Lord's power as He showed Himself to be the One True God, having gained the victory over the so-called gods of Egypt, Exodus 12:12. However, when God's people saw the mountains at their sides, the Egyptians coming to overtake them from behind and the Red Sea in front of them, the past wonders of Almighty God evidently didn't stay uppermost in their thinking. The need of the moment took precedence, and they lashed out at Moses. I would be hard on them for this lapse if I didn't sometimes "forget" what the Master has done for me when I face my own Red Sea moments. Like the Lord's people, I don't like being stuck, unable to see a way out.
Ah, but then we read the story of God's provision. What if we were just now reading this account for the first time. Would we be in awe of God's special protection for His precious ones? Would we be shocked by how the Mighty One heaped up the sea on both sides so that His people could walk across it on dry land? Think of the magnitude of it. Among the people were more than 600,000 men of an age to go to war. In addition to these, there were women, children and older men. God saw to it that they all crossed safely. What about the awe we would experience as we pondered Egypt's mighty charioteers with their 600 chariots. They had come to enslave God's people again; however, God fought against them, and they soon found themselves fleeing from Him. They fought the Lord, and the Lord won! The best part of this account is that it is true. The Omnipotent One made a way for His people, and they were set free. Truly, as the scriptures remind us, there is nothing too difficult for God, Jeremiah 32:27; Genesis 18:14.
Thankfully, most of the time when we are stuck and unable to go forward or backward, we don't face the kind of life and death peril God's people encountered. Even so, we sometimes find ourselves without an option that we can discern. Whether the dilemma seems small or great, what can we do when we don't know what we can do? Time to cry out for help. James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God. There is a promise there, and it is from the same God Who parted the sea. James reminds us that God will give wisdom generously. He won't give it with a scolding attitude as people sometimes do. This scripture reminds us that God is pleased to guide us when we don't know what to do.
In Psalm 119:105, we are reminded that the wisdom God gives often doesn't answer all of the questions we might have in a given situation. Even so, God's wisdom often gives us the next step for the day. Enough light for the path just ahead of us. I don't recall where I read it, but one author put how God guides us like this: He said it was like the military. He gives us guidance on a "need to know basis." When we need a piece of guidance, He will direct us. Until then, He leads us step by step.
Proverbs 3:5 reminds us not to do something that most people, including me, find easy to do. We are not to lean on our own understanding. We frequently want to connect the dots in our lives as we try to figure out a given situation. God says that instead of that, we should trust Him and acknowledge Him in all that we are doing. He then promises to direct our paths, Proverbs 3:5-6. Back to the children of Israel. Using their own understanding, could they have fathomed what God would do to help them? Yet, He not only brought them safely out of Egypt, He guided them through the wilderness for 40 years. Even their disobedience did not cause the Lord to turn away from shepherding them.
Lord, this life often finds us befuddled. It is then that we call out for Your help because, once again, we find ourselves stuck. Please guide us according to our need to know.