What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? (Exodus 14:11)
After all that had happened to Moses, you’d think that he’d grown accustomed to the unexpected and unlikely. This was a man who had held conversation with a burning bush, a man who had fled Egypt as a fugitive only to be sent back to Pharaoh’s court, a man who had struck the Nile river with his knobby staff and seen the flow thicken and turn red, a man who had tossed soot into the air and witnessed the eerie spread of a fine dust that raised boils on all Egyptian flesh. Yes, after all this Moses was surely beyond surprising.
But barely out of Egypt with a nation of freed slaves, this man who had seen it all must have been blindsided by a question; a simple surprising and stunning question: “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?”
It’s surprising how easily faith and trust are abandoned; how quickly exchanged for comfort and familiarity. Having taken those first steps toward becoming the people God intended for them to be, they were ready to go back, afraid that they’d made a mistake, second-guessing the God who had called them and claimed them as his own. They wanted a do-over, and it didn’t take long. Israel’s fear is surprising, but not inexcusable. The sight of the approaching Egyptian army was enough to send tremors to the knees of the most courageous and devout among them. Moses himself probably felt a knot in his gut.
This moment raises a question for us and our journey of faith. How quickly, how often, how easily is our trust in God reduced to questions and complaints? What does it take to lure us into fantasies about a different life, maybe a former life that we decided to leave behind? Sometimes it doesn’t take much: A flat tire, a missed deal, recognition given to a co-worker, payment that doesn’t come in when you needed it. You can make a list. And then there are times when we are truly overwhelmed by what we face.
The story of the Red Sea will be our focus this week. It’s a story that speaks to all of us who have ever been unsettled in the life of faith; it’s for those who have considered being done with it, going back. Maybe such a moment for you is a thing of the past. Maybe you’re there today. The Red Sea deliverance was a story told over and over again in Israel’s history to remind them of how God intervenes when we think there’s no way forward. The story still does that for us, especially in our unsettled moments.
Almighty God, in our unsettled season, in our questioning and complaining, you are always faithful to us. You make a way for us; a way that we often cannot even imagine. Teach us trust you as we walk into a new week, and use this story of your saving work to strengthen us in our journey of faith. Amen.