The picture to the left is a shot of the Oregon Trail and the deep ruts left by the many wagons which traversed the rocky landscape 175 years ago. For 25 years (1841 – 1866), there were an estimated 650,000 people who left their homes in the east and headed west. It’s amazing how treading the same ground day after day can wear ruts into the hardest of surfaces. Many of the people of that time were looking for a sense of freedom and a new way of life. In order for these folks to achieve their dreams changes had to take place. In one way we might say they needed a new “road out” of the daily grind of life.
The four points I share with you in this blog are derived from the book of Exodus which literally means “road out.” The people of Israel were in an “Egyptian rut,” and Moses was charged with leading God’s people on a new road out of bondage and despair to the Promise Land. In doing so these people would need to rise to the challenge before them and follow an unchartered path by faith.
1. The first step in breaking free from the ruts of our lives is to obediently follow God’s lead and change our present course.
Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV) Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.
God’s direction for the Israelites appeared to be all wrong because it would seemingly box them into a corner with no way out, yet this is often the type of situation where God thrives and His glory is revealed. God’s ways are not our ways but His divine plan for our lives is better than anything we can devise on our own.
2. Our second step is to realize it takes a certain degree of faith to break free from the ruts and turning back only brings a greater sense of enslavement.
Exodus 14:10-12 (ESV) When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
The reaction of the Israelites is no different than what many of us do during times of trouble. When we’re frightened and confused we tend to cry out, ask questions, and cast blame revealing our lack of faith and confidence in the ability of God. The Lord never brings us through difficulties with the intention of having us turn back to old habits and ways. For the believer the pre-Christian life should be left in the past with a sense of determination to take each new step by faith.
3. The third step in breaking free from the ruts means we allow God to fight our battles because it’s a divine thing.
Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
As Christians we are to never allow fear of the unknown, failure, or loss to stop us from any ministry or service God has called us to execute. We should always hold to the truth that God is able to accomplish His will in each and every life. I adopted Philippians 1:6 as my life verse many years ago because it’s a constant reminder that if anything good comes from my life it's because God is the One Who performs it in spite of me.
4. Our fourth step is to continue to trust God’s leadership and move forward with a sense of urgency.
Exodus 14:15-16; 21-22 (ESV) The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. … 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel 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.
When fear strikes we often lose focus of what God is really doing in our midst, and what we are called to do is simply listen and respond in obedience. God is the One Who sets our course, and we simply need to believe He will provide a way through the obstacles that block our way.