Moving Mountains, Parting Seas

Underestimating God is always a mistake. In Exodus 15 we see why.

The Israelites were a bunch of slaves trying to run away from their owner, which happened to be Egypt–at the time, the world’s most powerful nation. It wasn’t long after they left that they found themselves in the middle of the desert, facing the Red Sea, with no way across and the massive army of Egypt bearing down on them.

Nowhere to turn, no where to run, no way out. They were trapped, certain to face capture and a return to captivity–ot to mention whatever punishments the Egyptians might care to mete out for their attempt at running away.

But then a strange thing happened. The God who had made it possible for them to run away in the first place parted the waters and gave them a way out of the trap. Their pursuers, following them into the sea, soon drowned when the waters came tumbling down upon them. In surprise, the Israelites, standing upon that far shore, separated forever from their captors and now completely, finally realized that it was not a just a dream: the deepest longings of generations had been fulfilled.

For that brief shining moment, they realized that God hadn’t abandoned them, that he wasn’t toying with them, and that he did not intend to bring them disappointment and make them miserable. At that instant, they responded with a song of praise, thanking God for their deliverance. Of course, come the next crisis, they fell back into the place of doubting where they’ve lived their whole lives. It’s the same land of doubting where most of have made our homes. Very rarely do we even make it to the border fence and peer at the grass on the other side. Even more rarely do we open the one of the gates and leave. And we never leave for good.

Brittany was nearly eleven years old; a hyperactive, blue eyed blonde, she took in the news that the elderly woman, Miss Aileen, that her parents picked up and drove to church each Sunday was desperately ill with equanimity.

“She most likely had a heart attack,” her mother told her softly.

“So is she going to get better?”

“Probably not. She’s 83 years old and she’s in the hospital now.”

“We should pray for her.”

“Okay.” Her mother shrugged.

Brittany bowed her head. “Dear God, please help Miss Aileen to get well soon and come home from the hospital. Amen.”

Brittany’s mother frowned. She tried to tell Brittany that that was extremely unlikely that Miss Aileen would get better, but Brittany went out happily to play in the front yard, convinced that Miss Aileen would be just fine now.

“She’s going to be dead by morning,” Brittany’s mom told her husband. The husband nodded in agreement.

But come the next morning, Miss Aileen was not dead. And it turned out that it wasn’t a heart attack after all: it was her gall bladder. After surgery to take it out, Miss Aileen recovered and was moved to a nursing care facility. “No one gets out of places like that,” commented Brittany’s dad to her mom. “Those are just heaven’s waiting rooms.”

But another month later Miss Aileen left the nursing home and moved in with her son, as spry as ever.

“God answered my prayer, didn’t he mommy?” said Brittany. Her very surprised parents couldn’t help but agree.

God’s plans for us are good. He’s not trying to make us miserable. And he hasn’t lost his touch since he rescued the Israelites.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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