In every good road trip there is an element of adventure.
Most of the time when we get into a car, we are about getting to a destination. We are about avoiding traffic, getting as many green lights as possible, and making good time. For a task focused person such as I am, the destination trumps everything else. But on a road trip, the perspective changes. On a road trip, a good road trip, the destination becomes secondary to the adventure of the road. On the road, you could end up anywhere. There are thousands of miles of highway criss-crossing the United States. Just by pulling out of the driveway, you can connect to any of them.
I imagine when the nation of Israel was departing Egypt, a good road trip was not the first thing on their mind. Somewhere around a million people (counting the women and children) departed at a moment's notice. Just like that, after 400 years of slavery, they were finally free and leaving the place that had kept them in bondage for so long.
That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth. There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children. A rabble of non-Israelites went with them, along with great flocks and herds of livestock. For bread they baked flat cakes from the dough without yeast they had brought from Egypt. It was made without yeast because the people were driven out of Egypt in such a hurry that they had no time to prepare the bread or other food.
Their focus must have been on getting to their destination and starting their new lives; lives of freedom, lives dedicated to the God that freed them. So while the first day or so must have been a joyous occasion, I can't imagine it took very long for them to wonder, "Are we there yet?"
But God had other plans. Why? Well, because God always has bigger and better plans than our own. He sees the whole picture and and is doing long term planning while we live our short-sited lives.
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.
That's so God. Just when we think we are in the free and clear and on our way to the promise land, he takes us on a detour because he is more concerned about our long term success than our short term victory (or failure). God also knows that there are many times in our life when we would choose to return to slavery (those old habits that seem to linger even when we think we're done with them) rather than face a battle we would surely lose.
But sometimes we just can't see what God is doing in our lives.
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Israel panicked. And in their panic their first thought was to return to what they knew; what was comfortable to them. Slavery sucked, but at least they knew what to expect each day. They were willing to give up the adventure of the road trip for the comfort of their enslavement.
Have you been there? Have you looked at your circumstances and decided that you are better off not taking that chance? Not letting go of that fear? Have you turned away from opportunity in favor of familiar?
Just stay calm.
Easier said than done, I know. But when we know who we are; when we truly believe we are loved by our creator, then we can trust that he is fighting for us. We can stand their and watch him rescue us.
If you're in panic mode right now, perhaps it is time to change your perspective on who God is and trust that he is there for you, with you, and out in front of you. He has prepared the way for you, and is about to do something great in your life if you will just let him.
Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!