There is a great scene in the Prince of Egypt, an animated film that renders the story of Moses and the Exodus in the early parts of the Bible. In my opinion, it is a great movie about the call of Moses and the ultimate freedom of the Israelites…and lets me honest, when Val Kilmer is the voice of Moses, what is bad about that?
The movie begins with a cheerful enough tone but quickly turns to faster and almost fearful music. The Egyptians have a vendetta, and before you know it Moses is buried up to his hair in sand, after pushing a slave-enforcer off a scaffolding. He runs away, and there makes a life for himself, and we forget about the days in Egypt and the people suffering there – well maybe we don’t, but it seems Moses clearly has. Soon hist life is filled with all the things he wanted, and life is good. But then God calls him, and he must face his past and his demons and do something greater than himself. This will not be easy.
And so after at least 10 arguments with his former brother, the now Pharaoh of Egypt, Moses is finally permitted to “take his people and go.” They exit, and find themselves on the shores of the Red Sea, mountains on one side and a vast ocean on the other. They feel they are doing pretty good, but then the sound of chariot wheels, and horses and armor are ringing in their ears, and as they survey the landscape they realize, they are trapped. There is no out…they are about to lose their lives or be taken back and treated even more poorly as slaves. In some ways they realize that the options are slave or die..
Everyone of us knows what this feels like… to have your back to the wall, and feel that there is no exit, there is no out. Your enemy will either close in, or you will surrender or you will attempt some pathetic and ultimately feeble attempt to get away, but it never works, its demoralizing and often ends worse than it began. So the future seems bleak.
I don’t think the Israelites had any earthy idea about what was going to happen next. perhaps they resented Moses for selling them this infomercial version of what their lives could be, only to find out that it didn’t work quite as well as they had thought it would. They felt duped, misled, misguided, and actually betrayed and so the simply waited for the inevitable. Death or slavery, which is really the same thing.
But you know, it is when there are no more options that we are actually able to see new ones. When we are down and out that we have eyes open to the things of God. God opens the sea…think about that…God just ‘makes’ a new way. He says “here you go, why don’t you take this way and be free.” The option was actually the best one, the shortest route, the most fun and the one that no human heart could have predicted. God’s way just… worked. The added benefit is that it killed all the Egyptians, so slavery was off the table for them and the fear of death was over. God didn’t just give them a way out, he paved the way for them to become a people of life and peace.
When life has your back to the wall and you feel the absence of God, or that he is leaving you alone and not helping, perhaps he is just waiting for the reality to sink in and for you to give up. He is not far from you, although you may feel that way, he is just waiting for your eyes to catch up to your faith before he leads you home.