Sunday, January 4, 2015

God Still Holds Back the Water

      In the movie Prince of Egypt, there is an awesome scene where the Red Sea parts for the Israelites to cross safely as they fled from Egypt. The massive walls of water are clearly depicted with sharks and fish swimming high above the people as they walk quickly to safely. I love that image because it shows exactly how powerful and amazing our God is. He can hold back the Sea so His people can cross over on dry land. He didn't let them suddenly discover boats. He didn't throw up a barrier to stop their pursuers. He didn't allow them to swim across. God parted the waters and they crossed on dry land.  What's my point? Simple. God is Powerful Enough. Whatever it is that you are struggling with, God is powerful enough to handle it.

     About a dozen years ago, I worked in Human Resources. I liked my job. I worked hard. There was a variety in what I did. I travelled for work. I earned a nice salary. Nothing I did was dishonorable to God; nothing I did showed His awesomeness either though. My job went to the West Coast. I stayed here. I really prayed about what I was supposed to do next. God called me to teach and so I became a teacher. I tell this story a lot. It's all true. However, it leaves out the part where God held back the water for me to cross on dry land.

     In a Hallmark movie, I would have received a full scholarship or won the lottery or met a wonderful benefactor that paid for me to go to school to become certified. Nope. In real life, I lost my house, moved in with my grandmother, and slept on the floor of her small home for the first six months of my teaching career. When I was finally able to pay for Taylor and I a home of our own, we went without cable television, internet, and even heat for one winter. Life was hard. I never once doubted that teaching is what I was supposed to do though and we survived. How is this God holding back the water? I went to school for 15 months with absolutely no income. I did not have a penny at times. Church members would hand me gas money as we were leaving church. My grandmother housed us and fed us. I had a jug of loose change that I carried around in the car to pay for gas and it never ran out of money. God didn't give me an easy route, but He did allow me to cross over. Taylor and my grandmother became extremely close. He wouldn't have had that relationship otherwise. I devoted myself fully to my career because I knew this was my calling from God.  I love teaching because I am called to teach. God held back the water so I could do it.

     Today, the sermon centered on Joshua 3:1-5. Joshua says three things that I think we need to remember. First, Joshua tells the people to wait until they see the ark of the covenant to leave their homes and follow it. He said to WAIT. I have student loan debt from my Masters and my Doctorate. It worries me because it is a second mortgage every month. I wanted to be a better teacher, but I also wanted to be a better paid teacher. That's hard to say. It's true though. God has not miraculously erased my debt. Today, sitting in the pew, I realized that I had not waited until I saw God's plan. I made my own plan. I am bobbing in the sea of debt because I did not WAIT. The second thing, Joshua says is to put some distance between yourself and the ark so you can see which way to go. The ark is Holy. If I am so close that I cannot see the signs of which way I am to go, I will miss the direction I am supposed to travel. I like to think I know what is best.  I sit on this board and that committee. I apply for this class and that class. God didn't call me to be all those things. He called me to teach. God knows what His plan for my life is. I need to trust Him. I need to stop trying to catch up with the ark and show it where to go. God needs to lead me. Otherwise, I am looking for the life raft when God's plan is to part the water. I need to hand it all over to Him.

     Finally, (and I LOVE this), verse 5 says "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Sanctify yourself. We all want the waters to part. We all want to be part of something amazing. Joshua clearly states that we have to do our part first. We need to spend time in prayer, in reflection, in God's Holy Word. We need to take ourselves out of the picture and put the focus firmly on God. I am called to teach. My classroom is my mission field. I need to stop worrying about what my test scores are going to be. I need to stop worrying about accolades that never come my way. I need to stop seeking the approval of others. I need to sanctify myself so that God can be seen in me. God didn't call me to teach to raise standardized test scores. I am to do so much more. I need to sanctify myself and watch God do wonders among me. He will part the waters if I do my part. I cannot wait.