It was a beautiful July evening, back in the olden days before GPS and cell phones. The weather was perfect as we left the rustic lodge in the foothills of Appalachia. With my new bride in the seat beside me, I was enjoying the gorgeous scenery (both inside and outside the vehicle) on our way to an event. The winding road threaded through a dense forest of hardwoods, and with every twist and turn I became a little more unsure of my bearings. Somewhere along the way I missed a turn, and we became lost among the trees, unable to find our way out of the park. The signage was poor and there were no hikers to ask for directions. I could’ve kicked myself for leaving the lodge without my park map.
As a Christian, I have a map, directions to help me navigate my way through this thick forest. It’s called the Bible.
Same week, same honeymoon, different region. In a sparsely populated area known for its countless inland lakes, we found ourselves again driving along a dark winding road, this time with map in hand. It was after midnight when the lights of our 1967 Plymouth suddenly went dead. We pulled over and sat in darkness wondering how to find our way, until a friendly local stopped to offer help. After hearing our situation she said, “I know the place. Follow me.” Her tail lights guided us the rest of the way.
As a Christian, I have a mentor, a guide to lead me through places that are so dark I struggle to see the map clearly. He’s called the Holy Spirit.
Moses received his directions (his map) when God spoke clear instructions to him at the burning bush (and later on the mountain). Moses also had a guide (his mentor) in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, so he and the people could keep going even in the dark. After all the opposition they had faced in Egypt, Moses and his people were finally making some real progress, heading down the road toward the destination God had for them. Except for one problem: they ran out of road.
You’ve probably been there. I know I have, trying to follow God’s Word and seek Him for guidance. And just when you think you’ve received your directions and you’re heading down His path for you, you hit a brick wall (or in Moses’ case, a sea). There simply is no more road. The career door closed. The ministry opportunity ended. The family plan dissolved. The medical options ran out. The money dried up. You’ve taken the last step you can take, right up to the water’s edge, and the hostile army is closing in. Here’s how I describe it in my kids’ book The Hurry-Up Exit from Egypt: “This is the sea that made them all cry, ‘We’re trapped here like rats and we’re all gonna die!’”
Sometimes, I’ve found that mentality in me. I’ve followed my map and my mentor right up to what seems like a brick wall, and here I am at the end of the road. But God had a third “M” for Moses: a miracle. While hundreds of thousands looked back at the approaching terror, Moses looked forward and watched the Waymaker make a way. God used a tremendous wind to heap up the waters of the sea like a wall on each side. Extraordinary! Truth really is stranger than fiction.
And while this was a truly incredible miracle, it was by no means the only miracle God did for His people. How about water in the desert…out of a rock? (Exodus 17.) Or defeating an innumerable army while standing still and singing? (2 Chronicles 20.) The Bible is filled with mind-blowing miracles done for the helpless in times that were hopeless. It tells us repeatedly to remind ourselves and our children of the wonders God has performed. (Joshua 4:21-24; Psalm 78:2-7; Psalm 105; 1 Chronicles 16:8-12; Isaiah 43:16-19). These reminders build faith in our children. They build faith in me. And as my faith starts to swell again, I realize that, with God, not even the sky is the limit. Many years after He parted one sea, He simply chose to walk on top of another one.
I’m not exactly sure why my painful losses tend to be easier to recall than the incredible answers to prayer I’ve experienced. Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to tell and retell my children about God’s wonderful deeds. I can’t afford to let myself forget the miracles God did yesterday; I may be needing one tomorrow.
I’ll continue to look to my map. I’ll try to keep up with my mentor. And sometimes, when I run out of road, I’ll just have to remember to ask for a good old fashioned miracle.