For the week of January 22, 2000 / 15 Shevat 5760
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Haftarah: Judges 4:4 - 5:31

Facing Obstacles

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD (Exodus / Shemot 14:10).

After centuries of slavery and suffering in Egypt, the people of Israel were finally free. It took ten horrible plagues before Pharaoh gave his consent for them to leave, but, just like so many times before, he changed his mind and pursued the people with his army.

The people found themselves standing on the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army coming after them - an impossible situation. But God parted the sea and the people walked across on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow them, they were drowned. Now the people of Israel were truly free!

God wants to free us. That's why the Messiah came. Through Yeshua we can be free from the consequences of our sins. But sometimes our experience of that freedom is much like Israel in this story. We come to know a level of freedom and yet still find ourselves dreadfully threatened by those things in life that had bound us.

Our bondage may be due to a destructive habit or addiction. It might be a well-entrenched behavior. It may be the ever-present and haunting memories of past events. Whatever it may be, Yeshua desires to free us.

We often forget that life with God is a process. While there are things that he has accomplished for us, realizing and experiencing these things can take a life time. If we do not understand or accept this, we may find ourselves frustrated, confused, or in despair.

When Israel left Egypt, they were free technically but they were still in a very vulnerable position. They needed to be cut off from the Egyptians. That happened at the Red Sea.

Think about them standing there in that impossible situation with the water in front of them and the army behind. What were they going to do? The Egyptians were too strong to fight. They couldn't run away, for there was nowhere to go. There was nothing they could do.

And that is how we often feel when we discover things in our lives that we cannot control or overcome.

We need to realize that only God can help us with our greatest problems. While there are areas of life that we can work out, there are these other areas, where we are helpless without God's help.

I have struggled with anger for a very long time. I recently saw clearly how serious a problem it really is. I have tried so hard and for so long to get rid of it. I have struggled to control it, but then something would happen and set me off.

I began to despair. I felt completely hopeless. I then asked God for help.

Nothing happened immediately, but over the next few days I began to see my anger more clearly. I began to see how destructive it really is no matter how much or little I had. I didn't need more control; I needed deliverance!

God is helping me. I cannot say that I haven't been agitated or haven't given into those feelings at all in these two weeks, but something is different.

One of the things that is essential in overcoming obstacles is to not give in to the despair. When the Red Sea parted the people needed to move forward. It took faith in God to walk between the parted waters. The sea threatened to drown them, but God enabled them to get to the other side.

When we face obstacles, God's way for us may not be to take us around the things we fear. He will often lead us right through them. And so I still need to face the things to which I would normally respond with anger. Yet I need to trust that God will enable me to walk through these threatening waters without drowning.

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