Hi Everyone, come on in and have a seat. I just made a fresh pot of coffee and you’re welcome to a cup. I’m glad you’re here with me.
This morning, Tex and I went outside in our bare feet to survey my Victory Garden.
We do this pretty much every morning even in the rain. It’s a lovely little ritual that we share together. My garden has been renamed ‘The Tomato Jungle’ because its grown so large and tangled that its pulled up all of my tomato cages.
If you look carefully (and I apologize for my pop-socket getting into the picture) you can see that I still have blossoms on these tomato plants! AND a whole lot of still green tomatoes. But Tex and I still go out every morning and look to see if we have any that are ripe and edible.
It rained last night so the garden was muddy. My little white dog loves the mud and thinks nothing about going and getting all mucky. I thought this morning that I would join in the fun and walked through the garden…
…And actually got stuck. My foot sunk so far into the dirt and the jungle and I had a few seconds of wrestling before I could get out. Tex had a good laugh at my expense; he’s only about 3 pounds after all so their was no sinking happening there!
So all of this got me thinking about our Old Testament lectionary reading this week; the Parting of the Red Sea.
19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20 It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24 At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25 He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)
This was always one of my favourite Sunday School stories, even though it’s a pretty grisly one. We have the army deployed by Pharaoh: a huge, well equipped and well-trained troop that has been deployed to pursue a rag-tag group of Israelites; former slaves, who are running for their lives. The Israelites have no training, no food, not much of anything except a promise – a promise that you read about in verse 14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Wait. What? We need to be still? There’s an army bearing down on us and you’re telling us that we need to be still? I don’t know about you, but this would not’ve been the moment to tell me to settle down! I would’ve been scared out of my mind.
And then with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit, Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites run across. When this scene played through in my head as a kid, I pictured it as about a 10-minute exercise: sea parted – Israelites running for dry land – army getting drowned; however, a little more careful reading gives a better sense of the time line. You see – all of this happened at night – the sea parting part, anyway – and the Israelites were being led in the dark by a pillar of fire, with the army still in hot pursuit. It wasn’t until morning that God took the next step and ‘threw the army into a panic’, and clogged their wheels so they couldn’t move. THEN, the ‘waters covered the chariots’ and Pharaoh’s army drowned. A whole night of terror and panic for the Israelites ended with them scrabbling up onto dry land and seeing their enemies being drowned.
I thought about this story this morning as Tex neatly ran through the same garden that I got stuck and tangled in. Tex at 3 pounds could skate along the surface of the mud and happily make it to the deck with very little effort. I, on the other hand, at significantly more than 3 pounds got mired enough in the garden that I had to spend a few seconds pulling myself out. And I wondered, if, in this story, what would’ve happened if the Israelites had all of the equipment and training that Pharaoh’s army did. Pharaoh’s chariots got stuck in the muck; weighed down by their equipment, their training and their power. The Israelites, literally running on a promise by God, could make it safely to dry land.
Often when I feel like my world is threatening to drown me in its demands and expectations I start reading and trying to ‘arm’ myself with information and strategies to ‘fight’ the battle that’s laid out in front of me. But just like Pharaoh’s army I can get stuck there: hopelessly spinning my wheels under the weight of the world and forgetting the simple whispered promise “The Lord will fight this for you; you only need to be still”.
The promise that keeps us from drowning in this world’s problems and expectations: God’s got this – and we just need to be still.
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Blessings today dear friends, and remember you are Loved.
Rev. Lynne (aka Church Mouse)