how to cross the Red Sea, or make supper
I have friends who if they knew they were going to make lasagna for supper one night this week, they would have dutifully added the ingredients to their shopping list they planned to complete on their weekly shopping day on Monday and made a delicious, fresh lasagna for supper on Thursday. Their fridges are always neat and tidy, no ingredients shoved to the back or forgotten leftovers. I open them up and I am shocked at the space, the ease of finding things, and the pristine glass shelves. I admire those friends so much.
Myself personally, on Monday, I decided to make lasagna for supper on Thursday because I had half a tub of cottage cheese, half a jar of pizza sauce, half of two bags of open mozzarella cheese all teetering on the brink of expiration in the fridge, along with a jar of "tomato soup" I had frozen a while ago because I made it and it actually turned out tasting more like drinking marinara sauce. And I also had ciabatta buns in the fridge that two weeks ago I had determined were good for nothing but croutons but I forgot to make croutons so I slathered butter and garlic powder and mozzarella cheese on those too, and wrapped them all up in tinfoil and stuck it in the oven for a while and my family declared it "restaurant-like" garlic bread.
So. There's a number of ways to arrive at making lasagna on a Thursday.
I think the important thing is that no matter what we do, we do it with what we have. We are charged to work with what we're given.
If I'm given a propensity for organization and an opportunity to regulate my weekly shopping schedule, I should do that faithfully and regularly, grateful to God for the order He's infused into my life through that routine, and use it to serve my family effectively.
If I'm given a propensity for creativity and using it to regulate the chaos, I should do that faithfully and regularly, grateful to God for the way He brings order to my life in spite of myself, and use it to serve my family effectively.
We cease to be effective servants when we aren't grateful, and instead going about life fearful that we aren't doing it right. We lament not being more like our friends, we wonder if we should be more like our friends, and we spend a lot of time languishing there instead of asking God how to best use what He's given us.
I've been seeing some of myself in the children of Israel, as usual when I study these passages. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh to request the that the people be relieved of their brick-making burdens, it didn't go all that well and "Moses turned to the Lord and said, 'O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." (Exodus 5:22-23)
I say this to God, I am ashamed to admit. I ask Him why He ever made me the way that I am and why He sent me to do what He has sent me to do. And I don't ask it in humility but in pride, violently fighting against my own failure and inadequacy. But I've been studying the life of Moses and God is growing him over time. Many happenings and chapters later, when the plagues had come and gone and the children of Israel had marched out of Egypt...
"When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward." (Exodus 14:10-15)
The Lord did not want to hear Moses complaining about anything. He wanted him to walk forward, trusting that God would make a path through the chaos and despair... quite literally. He fully intended to work through Moses to open the Red Sea, to make a way where there wasn't one... but Moses had to move forward with what he had.
I need to ask God to convict me, and change me. But I also need to trust that He will.
Fear not. And go forward.