12 Oct Foresight and Focus
“As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them.” —Exodus 14:10
I’m not going to lie: if I stood where the Israelites were standing, pressed between the sea and the mountains (both equally impassable) and saw the Egyptian army surging toward me in their chariots with swords flashing, I would panic too. I certainly would not want to be the guy at the back of the crowd.
It’s easy to read about the Israelites at the Red Sea and say, “They just saw God deliver them from slavery in Egypt with ten destructive plagues. Have they forgotten already?” Yes, they certainly have that against them. But when you think you’re about to be slaughtered, retrospect has a way of becoming distorted (e.g., vs 11-12).
I think what hinders the Israelites even more than their warped hindsight is their lack of literal foresight in not keeping their eyes on God. Jump ahead to verse 19: “Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them [emphasis added].”
According to this verse, God was visibly present with the Israelites when Pharaoh’s army showed up. This means that the Israelites had to intentionally turn their backs on the pillar of cloud–the glorious manifestation of God that was directly in front of them–to focus on the threat behind them, and it was at this moment that they began to panic. If they felt afraid, it wasn’t because they were scared that God wasn’t going to show up to deliver them; He was already there! They simply didn’t look to Him, reacting as if He wasn’t there at all, and focusing instead on the hopeless situation they had found themselves in.
“If they felt afraid, it wasn’t because they were scared that God wasn’t going to show up to deliver them; He was already there!”
Again, it’s easy to sit in judgment of them, but on an almost weekly basis, I find myself in the same position. Sunday comes, and I look out on my work week with unease, sometimes dread. The enemy that comes against me is fear–fear of failure, of miscommunication, of sudden changes, of rebuke, of the unknown. Sometimes I make myself afraid by my own imaginings of what could go wrong.
I could console myself by looking back and seeing that God has already brought me through a year and half of successful work weeks, and even through the most difficult of them, I’ve grown. That is consoling, and certainly humbling. But more and more I think I need to look less at the week ahead of me, or even at the weeks behind me, and look instead at the One who ordains every moment that I spend at work. All else is distraction and is unworthy of my thoughts, my trust, and my hope.
“. . . I think I need to look less at the week ahead of me, or even at the weeks behind me, and look instead at the One who ordains every moment that I spend at work.”
We, like the Israelites at the Red Sea, aren’t waiting for God to show up. He has already come for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, Immanuel. The Spirit of God lives in us not just with us. That being the case, we have far less excuse than the Israelites did to live in fear or succumb to panic. For in Christ, the thing that should cause us the greatest fear and terror–the power of death–has already been overcome, and if He conquered this, our greatest enemy, what will He also do to our lesser foes if we trust Him?
It is a discipline to keep my mind focused on my Savior instead of my circumstances. But I hope each day to grow in claiming the promise of Psalm 91: “The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.’”
Sarah LaCourse has minimal talent in a few areas—writing, art, singing, DIYing— and exceptional talent in one area: thrifting. She loves having been raised in Greenville with her incredible family and wonderful friends and hopes to live here for a long time. She is the Student Ministry Administrator at our Pelham campus.