KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla., September 17, 2012 ― Life has been a bit busy lately, as I’m sure you can relate. With my surgeries behind me and my kids back in school, I have found myself going 100 mph again, working around the house and in our ministry. The result? Exhaustion, and a repeat of the physical symptoms that I spent all summer overcoming. Will I ever learn?
With the recurrence of my health issues I have found myself growing discouraged, angry, frustrated, anxious, and even fearful. In the midst of these emotions, I’ve noticed my mouth starting to engage in stupid-talk. You know, words filled with frustration and despair. The Bible is surely right when it says that out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). How quickly my heart can become overwhelmed and gush words out of the hole in my face in ways I’m certain aren’t pleasing to my Lord or pleasant for those around me.
This morning I decided it was time to start diving deep in the Word of God again (yes, this ministry leader has found herself too busy for God in the midst of her ministry work). Rather than reading the Word as something to mark off my to-do list, I approached the Word in a fresh way, with expectancy and excitement. As I sat at Jesus’ feet and soaked in His truth, I discovered once again what I know to be true but somehow so easily forget - Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, is the answer to life. He is the cure to everything that “ails” me - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As soon as I opened my Bible, an index card fell out. It was a verse I had written down years ago. “Fear not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest” (Exodus 14:13-14, AMP).
Peace and rest … wouldn’t that be nice? I started to dive a little deeper in this chapter. I am sure most of you are familiar with the story surrounding this verse. Moses had just led the Israelites out of Egypt and they were heading to the Promised Land, a place of incredible blessings. While on their way, they looked up and saw their enemy, the Egyptians, marching after them. All of a sudden, this enemy they thought they had overcome and left forever was back, breathing down their necks!
I can surely relate! No, I don’t have a physical army coming at me, but every day enemies of chronic health issues, a striving and performance-driven personality, household chaos, and ministry financial issues seem to be lining up at the door of my heart, ready to attack. Like the Israelites, the very enemies I think are conquered, the things I think I’ll never have to deal with again, are right back in my face.
More often than not, my response has been very similar to the Israelites. “The Israelites were exceedingly frightened and cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 14:10, AMP).
I wonder what words the Israelites cried out? I imagine their cries were similar to my own. Maybe they cried out, “Not this again, Lord!” Or perhaps they asked the common question, “Why, God?” Maybe they even begged God to help them?
The actual words of their cries really aren’t the issue; the issue is that their cries quickly turned ugly. Within moments they started attacking Moses out of fear and anger. They cast blame and then entered into stupid-talk when they said, “It would have been better for us to stay in Egypt and serve the Egyptians!” (Exodus 14:12)
Fear, anger, blame, anxiety, discouragement … we all experience these emotions when faced with unpleasant circumstances. In my heart of hearts I know God can do anything. I know He can stir the hearts of people to give to our ministry and meet our ever growing financial needs. I know He can touch my body and cause every single symptom to be gone. I know He’s on my side and able to do abundantly more than I can ever hope for or imagine. But when I see the “enemy” marching towards me in the form of an empty ministry bank account or physical symptom, I, like the Israelites, respond out of what I see, hear, and feel rather than what I know to be true.
Praise God for the reminder that emotions do not have to rule our lives and and “enemies” do not have to overtake us. Right now in the midst of our wilderness, peace, rest and victory can be ours.
From Exodus 14, I find three keys to rest, peace and victory. They include: Laying aside our fear, standing still in our spirits, and moving forward physically.
Laying aside fear means just what it says: We are to lay aside fearful thoughts and replace them with God’s truth (see Philippians 4:6-8 and II Corinthians 10:5). But the command to stand still may surprise you. It’s not a physical stand still, it’s referring to an emotional and even spiritual state. The Amplified Bible describes standing still as remaining confident, firm in faith, and undismayed. Undismayed means to refuse to become discouraged by set-backs.
This verse hit me right between the eyeballs! I’ve become so discouraged lately by my set-backs. This doesn’t make me a bad person, I’m human. I believe God understands my discouragement. The Word even says He holds my tears in His hands. But the problem is that I’ve remained in discouragement too long. It’s settled in my heart and begun to overflow out of my mouth. It’s hindering me.
Through Moses, God is reminding the Israelites (as well as you and me) to lay aside our fear and refuse to allow discouragement to overtake us. As we do, we will have the victory, we will the see the salvation of the Lord TODAY, and we will see our enemies no more! God Himself will fight for us and as He fights, we can maintain our peace and remain at rest in our spirits (Exodus 14:13-14).
Finally the third key to victory is to move forward. I have to smile when I read verse 15. “The Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward!”
Basically, God is telling Moses to get off His knees, gather the people, and move forward in obedience. He’s commanding him to move away from the enemy. To the people of Israel, He is saying, “It’s time to quit complaining and blaming. It’s time to stop trying to figure out your situation and simply trust Me. Start moving forward confidently knowing I got this! I got your back and your situation!”
It’s so tempting to “sit” emotionally and physically when overwhelming, frustrating, and painful situations come our way. Like the Israelites, we even find ourselves encamped in the midst of the enemy instead of moving away from it.
In this verse, God isn’t telling Moses or us to never cry out to Him. He isn’t suggesting His people never come to Him with requests. He is simply saying there is a time to get up and move forward. There’s a time to start doing what you know to do. As we do what we can do, God will do what we can’t.
In the Israelite’s situation, they had a Red Sea to walk across so that they could escape the enemy. As they moved forward, God did the impossible! He split the sea and conquered their enemy once and for all. In my situation, it’s time to make some life changes and quit welcoming the enemy through my life choices and words.
I’m not so sure God would have split the Sea if they had sat on their tushes complaining and blaming. Likewise, it wouldn’t have split if Moses had never risen up in obedience by lifting up his rod and stretching his hands over the sea to divide it (Exodus 14:16).
God works in us and through us. Yes indeed, He fights our battles, conquers our enemies, and makes a way where there seems to be no way. But God’s heart and His hands are moved by our faith. He moves on our behalf as we lay aside our fear and other emotions, as we rise up confidently trusting in His Word, as we stand still refusing to be discouraged by our circumstances, and as we move forward physically in faith. As we do our part, God will always do His, and in the end, victory, rest and peace will be ours in the face of our greatest enemies and in the midst of any wilderness!
Kristi Overton Johnson is a wife, mother and an eight-time world waterskiing champion. Having retired from professional sports, Kristi now helps others fulfill their God-given destiny.
To read more by Kristi go to http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/his-wakes
To learn about her mission and work visit Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries.
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