I set out down the driveway, head down the street, and am soon pounding the pavement. I have two lead weights for legs. You know that bible verse about the deer in high places? I am the exact opposite of that deer today.
I pass what we locals call The Duck Pond, where three fountains spray high and ducks and pigeons cover the sidewalk with poop, before heading south to turn onto the streets which zigzag parallel to the river. If only I could see out onto open water, maybe I’d be lighter and faster on my feet, but neither the view nor the feeling ever present themselves.
Rounding the bend I pick up the pace, but only because a new song comes on with a faster beat than the last. Even over the music, I notice each street carries its own unique sounds ranging from quiet, except for the occasional birdsong, all the way to the abrupt roar of a motorcycle revving up and sounding overdue for an open road.
I turn the corner onto another street and a large brown truck barrels toward me with no sign of letting up. I’m on the left-hand side, squeezing harder and harder against the curb, until I think the driver may actually run me over, when I make the snap decision to jog into the grass. He screeches to a halt where I was only five paces ago, shoves the gearshift into park and dashes out the open door.
Geez. Is the package more important than a human life? I think this instead of shouting it, ready to leave him in the dust behind me anyway.
In addition to maniacs with shipping deadlines, it’s possible things feel harder today because of my inability to breathe. There’s a tree which reaches up like a claw from our yard, whose nails dangle fuzzy yellow blooms, and I live in constant fear I’ll be attacked by it each time I open the front door to leave. For more than a month I’ve had a dripping faucet for a nose and a scraped knee for a throat and, after having everything from drugs to herbal remedies recommended, I’ve come to my own conclusion: some things can’t simply be ‘fixed’; they have to be walked through. And unless I plan on sealing tight the doors and hunkering down the entire bloomin’ season, I must press on with life in spite of feeling this way.
For a while now I’ve been kind of obsessed with Exodus 14:15. I know. Sexy, right? It’s the lesser-noticed exchange between God and Moses, before the show-stealing parting of the Red Sea, a scene for which we all have Charlton Heston to thank for making famous. (And if nothing else, a little cheesy.)
The people of Israel had been alternately crying out to the Lord and belly-aching to Moses, asking Moses whether he’d brought them to die in the wilderness because Egypt had an insufficient number of graves. (And people think God’s word is antiquated. Where do they think sarcasm came from?)
The people, no doubt, have come to this point on their journey where they look ahead at the water, look behind at their enemy, and then collectively press the panic button. There were no good options.
I see them standing there at the edge of that water. Granny in the wagon with the broken hip, Mom shushing the kids and peering down to look at Dad, Dad who’s responsible for them all. Perhaps Mom is exceptional; a woman from whom Dad is able to gather his final resolve. A look passes between them, each of them silently willing the other with their eyes to step out of the fear which threatens to paralyze them.
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
Um. I’m pretty sure God just told his peeps to “Shut up and move.” (Notice the lack of daisies or pink unicorns in his presentation.)
The problem with the people at the water’s edge that day? Their eyes worked just fine. It was vision they lacked. And just when it seemed like all hope was lost, the impossible happened.
Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people may go through on dry ground…And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.
Compared to them and what they were facing, my allergies and other piddly issues seem ridiculous and, yet, I belong to the same God. And I may not be able to relate to the clothes on their backs or the breakfast they’d eaten before setting out, but I have at least one thing in common with the people of Israel. My vision’s limited too.
Go forward. Even when you hear the arguing tune up from the sisters’ bedroom for the gazillionth time and wonder if they’ll eventually maim or kill one another.
Go forward. Call a friend even when you feel disconnected, wondering who would notice if you fell off the face of the earth.
Go forward. Even when it seems impossible to stop the day and its relentless demands to do something proactive you’ve been dreaming about, like cleaning out those two kitchen cabinets that are stealing your joy every time they spit out a falling cup or random lid.
And, then, once you finally clear the hurdle of purging them and the discards sit stuffed in a box on the dining room floor for weeks, ‘Go forward’ with that too.
Samantha, go forward with that thing you suspect I’m leading you to do in spite of the unknowns. ‘Cause the alternative to moving through these various obstacles is to eat compulsively and stay in bed all day and you’ve seen how well that’s gone in the past.
I check the clock on the tiny screen strapped to my upper arm and see it’s time to head back in time for school pickups. I turn a hard right onto the road we call home and by the time I set foot back on the driveway, I feel thankful for this run. There was no wind at my back and my lungs struggled to keep pace with my stride, but I’m glad I went. Sometimes the body knows what the heart has yet to catch up to: going forward is a good course of action. And although I may not spot the pillar of cloud by day or fire by night, He is leading me and my family just as He led them.
So each morning, ask for My help, push back the covers and go forward. Even when, perhaps especially when, the enemy presses at your back and what’s in front of you threatens to sink you…
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