Monday, May 09, 2011

Beside Still Waters

Sometimes reading a different version of the Bible can give new insight, even when it's a children's Bible! Each night before bed, I read a daily selection out of Mia's Bible. It's a simplified version devised so you can read the entire Bible in a year by reading ten minutes a day. We are up to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and I recently finished that same section in my own nightly reading, but last night something really jumped out at me.

After pharaoh finally led the Hebrews leave, God didn't lead them on the shortest way back to Canaan. The shortest way was right through Philistia, past all the Philistines like Goliath who was nine feet tall. God knew that if the Hebrews had to fight the Philistines they would run right back to Egypt in fear. They didn't trust Him enough to lead them through battles like that. Which is ridiculous! God had just sent down the ten plagues on the Egyptians, including killing all of the first born sons, gaining the Hebrews their freedom AND much of the Egyptians wealth. They were following an enormous cloud of fire, and yet God knew they didn't trust Him enough to lead them through battle.

Instead God led them to the Red Sea and then riled up the Egyptians anger against the Hebrews so that they hopped in their 600 fastest chariots and gave chase to force them to return. And the Hebrews went into a panic. Can you really blame them? A huge uncrossable body on water in front of them, raving Egyptian warriors behind them. The Hebrews went to Moses crying, "Why did you ever bring us out here? We could have died just as well in Egypt! Did God bring us out here to die? We told you to leave us alone!" Moses turned to God and said, "Um, yeah, God? Wanna take care of this?" And God did! We all know the story. God told Moses to hold his hand and staff in the air, and the winds blew and the Red Sea parted overnight until there was a dry pathway for them to cross.

To keep them safe while the water parted, God placed his column of fire between the Hebrews and the Egyptians. It was dark on the Egyptian side, light as day on the Hebrew side. In the morning, the cloud lifted, and one million Hebrew people with their flocks and herds and baggage walked across the dry bed of the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds depending on what you believe). When the Egyptians tried to follow, first God made the wheels fall off of their chariots, and then the waters came rushing back over them. And they all died. Every single one of them. The Hebrews stood on the shore and watched their oppressors of over four hundred years die a terrible death under the hand of God. So they celebrated! They sang and song and danced with tambourines, probably even had a feast. They partied because not only were they now free, but no one was going to be chasing them and forcing them to return anymore.

You probably know this story, forgive me for repeating it. I've read it countless times myself, but last night was the first time that I noticed how God didn't take them the quickest way, because He knew their trust in Him wasn't up to it. It stopped me in my tracks, because it made me wonder: how many times have I missed the quickest route because I wasn't trusting the Lord the way I should? And then when He leads me on my way to a astounding victory, I panic and assume that He's left me alone? How many times have I wanted to return to my Egypt because I didn't trust God to carry me through?

The answer is humbling, because I know it's been far too many times. I'm in the middle of a family crisis right now that has laid me low, and last night I was anger and hurting at the world, including God for putting me in this place. Reading Mia's Bible made me realize that I'm not putting my trust in Him the way I should. I woke up this morning with a new attitude and ready to face the world again, even if it is the Red Sea. Only God knows what waits for me on the other side.

Beside Still Waters: A Big Sky NovelBeside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer is the first book in the Big Sky series. Marianna Sommer has lived every moment of her nearly nineteen years knowing that she had to make up for the two sisters who died in a tragic accident the night she was born. Despite the children born after her, there is still a heavy grief that lies on the Sommer family. And it has only grown since eldest son Levi has left the Amish faith. Marianna has always known that she wanted to marry Aaron Zook and he has finally made his move to let he know he cares for her, but it just may be too late. Marianna's father has decided to uproot the entire family to Montana in hopes of making a new start and breaking free of their tragic past. Marianna is furious at her father's decision, but once in Montana, she sees a happiness on her mother's face that she's never witnessed. She finds a job at an Englisch store, and quickly makes friends with an Englisch man that she can't seem to get out of her thoughts, despite missing Aaron and desperately wanting to return to Indiana. Marianna has to decide whether to live in the past or finally move into her own life. This is Goyer's first Amish book, and she does a remarkable job of interpreting their culture and faith. Marianna is a empathetic character that readers will ache for as she tries to make up for two lives lost in just her one person. Goyer's love for her home state of Montana is evident in the beautiful and lush descriptions of the scenery, as well as the different culture of the people who live there. Ben and Marianna make a fascinating couple, and I'm interested to see where Goyer takes them in the next book.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review.