“The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Exodus 15: 1-2
Sometimes I think that the best part of a vacation is in remembering it, re-visiting the good memories of faraway or exotic locations. Any fears of flying were overcome, there were interesting things to see and do, and you know that it ended well – you arrived safely home.
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, Israel, too, was traveling. Not on a vacation, but on a freedom march from oppression in Egypt. When the Egyptians’ grief over the loss of their eldest sons turned to anger, they regretted their haste in getting rid of their former slaves – within days they pursued the fugitives. Israel stood in breath-stopping fear at the Red Sea shore, but saw God’s miraculous deliverance as he opened up a dry path through the sea. It’s a moment that would always be writ large, that lived on in their history as an experience of God’s goodness to them, a glorious truth.
There are extraordinary times, and we cherish them as we would the memories of an amazing holiday. But God doesn’t let us stay there, because these times are merely signposts on the way to a much more glorious destination. After their joyous celebration, Israel had to move into the bleak desert, and three days later they were grumbling because the only water they could find was bitter. They needed to learn that the God who had been able to accomplish the spectacular could also be depended on their basic everyday needs.
I’ve lived through some hazardous and thrilling times, and sometimes I’m tempted to think God is not that interested in my ordinary days. Still, getting to a destination can include long plodding periods of just putting one foot in front of the other. In these times my vision is blocked if I linger too long on former glories. Perhaps instead, as we do with icons on our computer screen, we can focus best on our present work when we know those victories are treasured there in the background.
When we reach new vistas, there are new truths to live out, new battles to be fought. One day the journey will be done, and we will arrive, like Israel, safely in the Beautiful Land.