But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still. Exodus 14:13-14
I am reading through the Old Testament and have been struck by the change and uncertainty that the Israelites faced as slaves in Egypt. Moses was called upon to lead them into a new vision that God had for them. They were to leave behind what they knew in Egypt. They were to leave behind both the good and the bad, and head out into an unknown future.
Of course, there is great anxiety surrounding the circumstances of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Things often got worse before they got better. Anxiety is always swirling about, sometimes just underneath the surface of change. Other times, anxiety is boiling over like an unwatched pot on a stove. There is much to be anxious about especially in ministry—reduced resources, increased budgets, shifts in our culture, the displacement of the church in our society.
When the anxiety of the Israelites bubbled over, they always insisted in going back to the “good old days.” When faced with an unforeseen future, they wanted to go back to being held captive in Egypt. They wanted to know where their resources would come from. They wanted to know they would be taken care of, despite the high cost of being forced into slavery. When faced with uncertainty, they always chose slavery over freedom.
Anxiety is a pretty natural response to not knowing what is next. The key though is not letting anxiety be the guiding force in our decision making. Decisions that are made with anxiety as the driving force will be unwise decisions because God will not be at the center. Anxiety is not life giving, but rather life denying and we need to be ever vigilant of when anxiety is overtaking our discernment process.
I love Moses’ words to the Israelites in Exodus 14: 13-14. Moses tells them, “Don’t be afraid because God is leading us. We only need to stand firm, to trust and to keep still.” Those words are still true for us today. Instead of busying ourselves out of great anxiety for our future, sometimes we are called to simply be still so we can listen for God’s word to us.
Letting God be our guide, we simply need to trust in God’s promises for us. We are not being called back to the “good old days”, but being called forward into God’s preferred future for us. While the future is unknown, it is still in God’s hands and that is what excites me the most. We serve a creative God who can dream a much larger dream for us than we can imagine, and can do for us far more abundantly than we can ever do for ourselves. May we enter into a season of radical trust and obedience as we let go of anxiety and open ourselves to what God is doing in our midst.