on starting something new

There comes a time in our lives, after we have fully submitted to Christ and offered ourselves in service to whatever he desires, that God asks us to move.  A door is opened and we are no longer asked to wait on his timing or his opportunity.  We are asked to move.  Move forward in a relationship, in a career, in a new physical location, in any countless number of ways, but the moment of obedience is now.  This is where the rubber hits the road:  are we really all about what we say we are?  Can we really follow through on our claims of an all-knowing, all-powerful God?  Can we fully surrender to him?  In these moments, God is not asking for perfection or a 10 year plan; he is asking for obedience.  That’s it.  Will you obey him and trust that although things are uncertain, He has gone before you and will walk with you every step of the way?

Quite often in these moments of choosing obedience, logic seems to fail us.  What the world says or even what our families or Christian friends may advise seems to contradict what God is asking us to do.  On some levels it just seems crazy.  Yet it is at these times that God provides overwhelming evidence in favor of what we should do.  If our eyes are open and our hearts are attuned to his voice, the signs are unmistakable.  He will confirm over and over, through Scripture and worship and prayer and “random” events that He is indeed asking you to do something crazy for him.  And so we obey.

The excitement mounts, our confidence grows, and we boldly step out into the unknown.  These are exciting times!  God is speaking and moving, and we are right there with him.  We can taste it and feel it!  This is something big.  Enjoy these moments.  Savor the excitement.  Document it in your journal.  🙂  These moments, as glorious as they are, don’t last.  Soon our boat is rocked by the waves of the enemy.

It was at this time that I was reminded of the story of the Israelites and the Red Sea.  They had just suffered years of slavery under the oppressive hand of the Egyptians.  Then one fine day God calls them to move.  But before that, God decides to do a series of amazing miracles just to show them who He is and that He is in charge.  So before their very eyes they witness miracle after miracle.  And then it’s time to go.  They leave Egypt and head into the desert.  What a high that must have been.  God punishes the Egyptians with plagues while sparing the Israelites, who then get to WALK out of Egypt as FREE men and women carrying the gold of their oppressors!  What a thrill!  But it’s not long before the thrill fades; they are face to face with the daunting sea and an angry army bearing down on them.  How quickly they resort to fear and doubt!  God, why did you bring us here to die?  We were better off in Egypt!  And although it’s easy to sit back and shake our heads at the Israelites for their lack of faith, we do the same thing.  Suddenly the excitement of our decision is gone.  In the light of day, it really does seem crazy.  Have we made a mistake?  People we love are questioning us–did we do the right thing?  Did we imagine all those signs? We are no better than the Israelites.  It’s so easy to let the questions, uncertainties, and doubts consume us.  That’s why it’s helpful to write things down.  We have records of God’s faithfulness.  We are reassured that these things really did happen.  God has called us and he has not forsaken us!  He would not lead us to the desert to die!

So by following God into the desert, we put ourselves into a position of surrender.  At some point, we are caught between a rock and a hard place, or a sea and an army, with no way out.  But living in faith and obedience also puts us in a position to witness the glory of God.  I was struck by this verse in Exodus, one that I had never really noticed before:

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.  But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”  

Not only are we in a position to see the glory of the Lord, he will use our situation to show his glory to others as well.  Living in risk and obedience puts us in a position where we regularly EXPECT to see the glory of the Lord revealed.  I’m sure it never crossed the Israelites’ minds to walk across the sea; that wasn’t even an option.  They were probably looking for boats or something to use to get across, or maybe weapons to turn around and fight.  But God is so much bigger than that.  He does something that could never even have been imagined:  He parts the entire sea.  Again, before their very eyes, the Israelites are witness to the power and glory of God.  And like the verse says, not only are they a witness, the rest of Egypt is a witness too.

So take that step.  Go forth boldly.  Rejoice in the excitement of your decision to obey.  Be ready for the storms; they will come.  But rather than accept the fear and uncertainty that press down on all sides, live in expectation that the glory of the Lord will be revealed in marvelous, mind-blowing ways.  And when it’s revealed, share it.  The people around you need to know the glory of the Lord as well.

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