Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Unknown

The Israelites have left Egypt on their way to a land God promised Abraham so many generations ago. They have been led to a place with a lot of water in front of them and the whole Egyptian army behind them. And then, they turn on Moses. They’re afraid of the unknown.
It’s a natural response to turn on the person in the leadership position. But, Moses wasn’t leading them. God was. God led them here with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; neither one leaving their place in front of the fleeing Israelites.
It was all part of God’s plan to lure Pharaoh into a trap so the Egyptians would know that God was Lord, all powerful, all mighty.
The problem was the Israelites didn’t know it was God’s plan that had put them in this predicament. Kind of like us too. We find ourselves in a tough spot, a painful situation and we can’t believe that it’s part of God’s plan.
The Israelites being between the Reed Sea and the Egyptian army was God’s plan. He had the best interests of his people at heart. He was taking care of them. They just couldn’t see how he was doing that. Often times neither do we.
So, here’s the Egyptian army closing in fast with chariots, the Stealth fighters of Moses’ day. And there’s this sea in front of them without one way of crossing over that anyone could see. They were no bridges in sight, anywhere!
God tells Moses everything’s falling into place just as he planned. He told Moses to stretch out his arm holding the staff over the sea and the waters would divide.
That’s what Moses did because he knew after the ten plagues in Egypt that God would do what he said. So, the wind God sent blew all night and the next morning the ground was dry, water piled up on both sides of the path where God wanted them to walk through.
All this time God has been protecting the Israelites from the Egyptian army. The cloud and the fire that had always been there preceding them moved behind them to hide them from the pursuing Egyptians. The pillar of fire gave them light to see when the ground was dry enough for them to walk over.
Don’t you kind of wonder who that first brave soul was who took that first step into that canyon of water? We don’t know who that person was but we do know that they all made it across before the Egyptian chariots started across in hot pursuit.
When all the chariots were in the Reed Sea Moses again stretched his arm out over the water and it all began to come back where it had come from covering Pharaoh’s army. It also helped that God jammed the wheels of the chariots so they couldn’t move. The sea returned to its original place drowning all the Egyptians.
All the folks Moses had been leading out of Egypt who had been complaining about Moses’ leadership qualities now knew firsthand the power of God, their God, and they feared the Lord and put their trust in God and God’s servant, Moses…at least for a time.
God lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land, the land first promised to Abraham. And in Matthew’s gospel we read that our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his mom and dad, Mary and Joseph, went back to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod the Great. All part of God’s magnificent plan. Kind of a full circle type of plan.
So, by now you may be wondering what’s God’s plan for us. Where is God leading us? Is God leading us toward a ‘Reed Sea’? Has God led us to a place where we know that the only way out is through the power of God?
How many of you have been between that ‘rock and hard place’ and decided that the only way out was to risk everything and trust in God and step out into the unknown?
So, where are we today? Where are you today? Almost eleven years ago I was asked to fill this vacant pulpit. I had no idea what God was going to do or how. It has been a journey and for this church I don’t think it’s over. A new chapter is about to begin and no one knows what’s ahead but God.
We may not be in the same situation the Israelites found themselves in but there’s a lot we don’t know. And that always worries people. It worried the Israelites and it worries us.
My friends, God is telling us in the lesson from Exodus not to worry. He’s got a plan. He’s got it covered. Trust in the Plan.
As this church steps into the unknown sharing a pastor with United Church of Avoca your pastor is stepping into another unknown, retirement. Both are a little scary because there’s always some risk.
Today God is telling us, again, that there’s a plan. Trust in God, believe in God, have faith in God and everything will be all right. God was there for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the Israelites and God will be there for you and me.

Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.

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