When Nothing Seems To Make Any Sense
Every hero has an arch-enemy. For Batman it’s the Joker. For Superman it’s Lex Luther. The Yankees have the Red Sox. For Muhammad Ali it was Joe Frazier. For me it was algebra. That’s right. You heard me. My nemesis? My great adversary? The one opponent who constantly challenged me and mocked me? It was 8th grade math. (My first instinct was to say that little blonde girl who sat next to me at the time but that was more like mortal terror.) I still remember the fear that I felt in those days whenever 5th period was about to start. The bell would ring, signifying the end of lunch and the beginning of my daily appointment with sheer torture. Numbers combined with letters??? The endless search for x and y??? None of it made any sense. It was perplexing. It was confusing. For the better part of the entire next quarter I felt like a man lost, wandering aimlessly through a wilderness of mathematical equations that I would never be able to solve.
Get the picture? Good. Now let’s apply that same scenario to a verse out of the Bible. Take a look at Exodus 14:3, “For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.'” They had left Egypt and began their journey to the land of promise. But rather than crossing over into Canaan they had decided to take a detour. On the very edge of the wilderness they suddenly turn to the right and set up camp in a dead-end. They must have looked lost to Pharaoh. In fact, he even describes them as “wandering aimlessly.” Strange word in the Hebrew. It literally means “to be perplexed, to be confused.” In other words they were clueless. From all outward appearances they looked like they no idea what they were doing or where they were going. To Pharoah’s mind they were walking in circles. First this way. And then that way. Forward. Then backwards. Left. Then right. And in the process they had managed to box themselves into a natural trap. Mountains to the left. Mountains to the right. And the Red Sea completely blocking their forward progress. They had managed to get themselves shut in by the wilderness and completely cut off from all hope of escape. From Pharaoh’s perspective the Israelites looked like a bunch of 8th graders struggling to work their way through Algebra.
Now, before we starting giving Pharoah a hard time I think we need to be both objective and honest for a moment. See, you and I have the benefit of perspective. We know a couple of things that Pharaoh didn’t.
- We know that the people of God were NOT lost. It just appeared that way. In fact, God was the One who was leading them on this seemingly aimless journey. Yes, to the outside observer they “looked” lost but the reality is that they were doing exactly what God had commanded. Never forget that obedience is always the right choice. Always. No exceptions. There are times when it won’t make much sense and you’ll be tempted to think that God has lost His mind. But in time, obedience to His voice will always prove itself to be the right decision. In addition, the truth is that we are NEVER lost. Never. Why? Because we are NEVER alone. No matter where you are right now, God is there with you. And He knows how to get you to where you need to be.
- We know that behind the outer perplexities there was a divine purpose. In the natural it made absolutely no sense on any level. (I imagine that Pharoah wasn’t the only one thinking they were confused. If you had taken a poll, I bet a lot of the Israelites would have echoed Pharaoh’s sentiments as well.) Their movements seemed confusing and God’s directives seemed contradictory. But in spite of what they might have thought God had a plan. God knew what He was doing even if no one else had a clue. Remember that verse in Isaiah 55? That’s the place where God has told us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” In other words, when it comes to God’s plans and purposes? They’re beyond us. Way, way beyond us. It’s during those perplexing times that we need to remind ourselves that God hasn’t lost His mind. He has a plan. And He knows what He is doing.
- We know that what seemed to be bad was going to be used for good. Pharaoh was absolutely, 100% right. The people of God had indeed walked into a trap. But there was one small detail he had overlooked. They were the bait and it was Pharaoh who was the intended target. God had orchestrated this entire event to bring about Pharaoh’s demise. Once and for all, God intended to end and remove the threat of a return to slavery. His people would not spend the rest of their days always looking over their shoulder. They were going to be free indeed! What Pharoah intended to use for bad, God was going to use for good!!! And that glorious truth is no less true in our lives.
Now, if you give me just one more minute before you leave, I want to go back and do just a little review. Ready?
- God’s people ≠ Lost
- God’s plans > Our perplexity
- Intended for bad = Used for good
Hmmm, maybe math isn’t that bad after all 🙂 Take care.