“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears were drowned in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing, I am a child of God.”
– Jonathan David Helser, No Longer Slaves
“Man plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”
– Proverbs 16:9
Have you ever thought about what the Israelites experienced the moment they were crossing the Red Sea? They had obviously never walked through walls of water onto dry land before! They were definitely fearful and probably wanted to wait until the last millisecond for any visible sign of waters parting far ahead of them before they even took the first step.
“And the Angel of God Who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, but it gave light by night to the Israelites; and the one host did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night and made the sea dry land; and the waters were divided. And the Israelites went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:19-22).
How does this apply to you and me?
I don’t know about you, but I used to be afraid of accidentally doing things that were not a part of God’s will for my life. I was so fearful of moving forward with new things, or big things because I had either never done them before, or I thought I could somehow mess up His plans for me by walking unwisely and miss what He was actually wanting me to do. I thought that I wouldn’t be blessed if I didn’t plan every detail out so that I could be “sure” everything could go well, and I was very nervous to commit to plans based on my back and forth feelings about them. The reality was: I wasn’t walking by faith – I was walking by sight! I’m pretty sure that the Bible says a little something about that: “We walk by faith, NOT by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
I thought I was being wise, but the issue with living life by sight is: We can never be fully wise, or fully prepared. We don’t and can’t fully know the future. Any control that we think we have is an illusion. Everything we do is a risk, and if we’re waiting for complete understanding before we move forward, we’ll never make any progress at all! We must have the faith to step into the unknown territory we feel God is leading us in, AS WELL as the wisdom to do it God’s way. It is not unwise to walk by faith, and it is not unfaithful to walk wisely. God will marry the two because they both come from Him.
A lot of times we are waiting to see if our desires and plans will prosper before we move forward – calling it wisdom, when in reality it is a lack of faith. Alternatively, we can want so much to walk by faith and prophetic signs from the Lord that we miss the wisdom of practically moving forward.
So, where is the balance?
Before God had even told Moses to lift up his rod and split the sea, Moses told the Israelites, “Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) 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). Why did he say this before God told him what He was actually going to do? He said it because he knew the heart of God! He was a friend of God who knew that His heart was FOR His people, and not against them. He knew that God desires to lead His people forward so that they can be blessed to be a blessing, and bring glory to His Name!
However, I love how candidly God spoke to Moses after Moses’ faith-filled speech to the people:
“The Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD! Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the Israelites SHALL GO on dry ground through the midst of the sea…” (Exodus 14:15-16).
Basically, God was saying “What are you waiting for? You said you believe Me with your words, now prove it with your actions!” The Angel of the Lord then went BEHIND the Israelites – not ahead, like we would think, to separate them from the physical fear that was chasing them down. All that was ahead was God’s faithfulness to His promises, but He entrusted to His people the ability to WALK into them. He does the same for us. He will never let us down!
If you are walking ahead and still don’t know exactly if what you are doing is fully God’s will, if you desire to do His will, you can rest assured knowing that it is His desire for you to do it even more so. He will not allow you to miss His will for you if you are truly seeking it and are obedient to His promptings. He promises His heart is for us and His Word will guide, sustain, and light our path, one step at a time – however we have to know it to be led by it! When we study His Word, we begin to discover His heart and His nature and in turn begin to find what God’s perfect and pleasing will is, just like Moses did (Romans 12:2).
A recent example of this for me is a spontaneous trip I took last weekend to New Jersey to visit my family, and then to New York to see one of my favorite bands, Rivers & Robots. It’s not like I had the money just laying around, or that I planned this trip way in advance, but it’s simply that I caught the heart of God like Moses – that He was leading me in that direction, and that He was going to bless and protect me if it was truly His will! I also did a little imitation of Paul in the Bible. 🙂 Paul describes how he planned his travels to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 1:15-20:
“I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘yes, yes’ and ‘no, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word has not been yes and no. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not yes and no, but in Him it is always yes. For all the promises of God find their yes in Him.”
He simply WANTED to do these things, so he, like Moses, made bold declarations by faith, and enacted his plans! But he did not make his declarations or plans alone. He completely surrendered them to the Lord. He said he was not vacillating which means he was not halfway moving or going back and forth, but he was fully committed to moving forward without fear! He knew that God was going to honor his surrendered plans, or exchange them for a better path because He is faithful to fulfill His promises. His yes means yes and His no means no. Almost all of Paul’s travels in evangelizing the known world started simply as desires in Paul’s heart that God blessed and used! However, even though Paul had the right heart about it and was moving forward in such large displays of faith, he was occasionally given shut doors from God. Paul was actually “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia…(and) tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit” him (Acts 16:6-8).
What Paul wanted to do was right and good, and he had total faith for it, but due to the WISDOM of God, the Holy Spirit did not allow him and his friends to go there to preach the Gospel. Alternatively however, when God wanted him to do something that wasn’t on his radar, He showed him so clearly, and all Paul had to do was prove his faith with his actions. This proves to me that I don’t actually have to be afraid of missing it! I simply get to partner with God in praying for His will to be done, moving forward, and letting Him guide me anywhere else He wants to throughout the process. If He doesn’t want me to do something, He will show me, and if He wants me to do something else, He will show me! Like Paul, we cannot allow discouragement to enter our hearts when doors in front of us shut. We must simply keep walking until we either get a split sea, or are redirected. 🙂
Make plans and the Lord will direct your steps! Talk it out. Pray it out. Plan it out. What do you think? What do you want to do? What is God’s heart in the matter? Do you sense any hesitation or unsettled feeling in going ahead? If so, is it a lack of peace, or are you disobeying out of fear or a lack of experience?
I bought the tickets to NJ five days before I had to leave. I made the decision by faith, trusting that if the Lord wasn’t going to keep me from it, He would bless my trip. This trip was such a blessing and SO fruitful. If I hadn’t gone due to fear, I would have missed out on all that God did in my heart and the hearts of those around me. He won’t always tell us what He is going to do, but He will entrust the next steps of faith to us. The point of a split sea is to walk right through it, but a split sea won’t happen unless we have faith in where God is leading us and actually WALK RIGHT THROUGH IT by taking the steps He leads us in with His wisdom! God split the sea for the Israelites – even though they were an unbelieving, unwise generation. I, on the other hand, want to watch God split my sea while I am FULL OF FAITH AND WISDOM. I want to move forward and walk in confidence, without any hesitance or fear, trusting in His heart for me.
My fears will drown in perfect love.