Thought: You Must Keep Moving Forward
By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – January 3, 2021
Responsive Reading – Exodus 14:1-15, 19-27
Key Verse – Exodus 14:15
In recent years, I have not been one to get overly excited at celebrating the start of a new year. Yes, I am certainly grateful for making it through another year, but in recent years I often find myself in a melancholy heading into the new year (mostly because I’m usually so up during the holidays and sad to see them go). Yet, as we are always told, we must keep moving forward.
How does one keep moving forward after last year?
There are many people wondering today, how am I going to move forward for the next month nonetheless the next twelve months?” After the wild year that was 2020, some of us excitedly look ahead considering the prospects of a ‘brand new’ start. We begin to draw out plans and set our goals for the new year. However, for others, the baggage that we carried from the last 365 days did not magically go away overnight.
As we all know, there are many who lost loved ones to COVID-19 last year, and there are many who are still losing loved ones to the virus as we enter into this year. Some of them may be wondering, how do I move forward? Because of the pandemic, many may have lost their job, lost their homes, and lost their way of life. They too are asking, how do I move forward?
Some are entering into this new year having fallen into deep depression and addiction because of all that went on in our world last year (politics, pandemic, social issues). They too are wondering, how do I move forward? Yes, the calendar changed and for some it is easy to move forward into another 365 days, but for many others there is no difference between yesterday and today.
Yet, the idea is that you must keep moving forward. (Must: the suggestion that something is imperative or required). Moving forward may be a great deal difficult for many people this year, yet, I tell you that it is possible to keep moving forward. Trust me, I know this difficulty and how hard it seems, but I can say for certain that it is possible to move forward.
At Your Red Sea
In my key verse for today’s sermon, we see Moses and the children of Israel ‘trapped’ at the Red Sea. I selected this particular scripture to preach from because I feel like many of us are probably feeling trapped right now. Life dictates to us that we must keep moving forward, but with so much that has happened over the last year, some may feel like they are standing at the Red Sea with no way to move forward.
Happiness turned to fear
After being freed from their bondage, the children of Israel came upon the Red Sea where God commanded them to camp (Ex. 14:1-2). Up to this point, things were going well for the children of Israel after being freed from bondage. They had left Egypt with all sorts of riches – silver, gold, and clothing – that they had asked for from the Egyptians (Ex. 12:35-36). So, we can imagine that they were very joyful when they first got to the Red Sea.
We too have times like this on our journey when all seems to be going well. Yet, we know that those times are incredibly temporary because as soon as we reach our highest heights of happiness, something inevitably seems to happen! Scripture tells us that while the children of Israel were rejoicing in their happiness, Pharaoh was stewing and his heart was hardened. Pharaoh grew upset and chose to pursue the children Israel with his army (Ex. 14:8-9).
Again, things seems to work like this on our journey, doesn’t it? We can be happy, completely minding our business, while something we are unaware of is set against us. Some of us begin to believe that it is God working against us, but God does nothing that is intended to harm us. God wants us to grow! He has no interest in seeing us burdened and beat up! No, God wants us to be happy and wants us to rejoice. Yet, we know of the spiritual warfare that we face and that there are things of this world and of the spiritual that is set against us (Eph. 6:12).
Turn your fear into faith
As they camped at the Red Sea, we are told that Pharaoh and his army overtook the children of Israel. We are also told in that same scripture that the Israelites became fearful at the sight of Pharaoh and his army as they marched towards them (Ex. 14:10). If you put yourself in their shows, you would also get that feeling of feeling helpless. They could not go left, they could not go right, nor could they turn around and go back. In the front of them was the Red Sea.
In other words, trouble was on every side, for the children of Israel. We are then told in the next verse how they felt about their predicament. They cried to Moses, asking, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness (Ex. 14:11)?” There was a feeling that the worst was about to happen to them! How often do you think this same thing when trouble seems to be at your back, your left, your right, and your Red Sea sitting in front of you?
It is when we feel like we can’t keep moving forward that we must turn whatever is holding us back (fear, depression, hopelessness) into having faith in God! Moses responded to the fear and hopelessness, and said, “Do not be afraid, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord (Ex. 14:13).” I say to you today, do not be afraid! Stand still and see God work for you!
After going through so much, it can be hard for many of us to move forward because we don’t see a way to move forward. Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (Ex. 14:14).” There is always a way forward with God. When you and I feel like we are trapped at the Red Sea, God sees a way for us to move forward! There was, and still are, several times when I just don’t know how I am going to keep moving forward but God says to me, ‘stand still and see my salvation’.
Parting Your Red Sea
If you feel like you’re standing at your Red Sea today and depression, fear, and hopelessness is keeping you from moving forward, I tell you that God will part your Red Sea! What you are feeling today is human of us, but don’t allow that feeling to overtake you like Pharaoh and his army. Prepare yourself to keep moving forward!
Deliverance already promised
Moses, cried out (prayed) to God in this predicament (Ex. 14:15). This is what most genuine believers would do in such trouble. Yet, God’s response to Moses is one that is very interesting. The Lord asked Moses in that same scripture, “Why do you cry (pray) to Me?” Could you imagine how you would feel if God asked you that question?
Some of us would probably wonder if God did not care about the situation that Moses and the children of Israel was in. Of course He cared! God cared for what they were going through as He cares for all of us in what we go through (1 Pet. 5:7)! David said from his experience with God, “cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (Ps. 55:22).”
Consider now that in all you have gone through in the recent year and cast (throw) your burdens on God! Because He cares for you, God will sustain you! In Him, moving forward will be made possible when you throw your burdens on the Lord! So, why did God ask Moses, “why do you cry (pray) to Me?” It was because God had already made a promise to him, the children of Israel, and their forefathers. God had already promised to Moses that he and the children of Israel would reach (be delivered) the Promised Land.
A way from your troubles
God has already promised us He is greater than anything we will face! Jesus, God in the flesh, said “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” From the promise He had made to the children of Israel, God viewed their predicament as one that they just needed to turn to Him and trust in His deliverance! They were going to overcome both the obstacle of Pharaoh and the Red Sea – it had already been guaranteed!
I tell you today that this same promise has been made to all of those that genuinely believe in the Lord. Time (life) is going to keep moving forward so, yes, we must keep moving forward as well. As genuine believers, we cannot become stagnant on this journey! If you’re standing at your Red Sea today and Pharaoh is at your back, stand still and watch the salvation of God – don’t be afraid. God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the children of Israel to cross on dry ground and I tell you that God will certainly make a way out of no way for you as well!
Last year was rough for many of us. As I type this, over 340,000 have been lost to the pandemic. Again, each one most likely had loved ones who have been left behind. There are several others who lost a loved one from another cause. Locally, I was saddened by the passing of young Kennedy Maxie, 7 years old, who was struck by a bullet while riding in the car with her mom.
It is going to be so hard for many people to keep moving forward this year. To all who have lost loved ones: we lift you up today. I have been there before and I know how difficult it is to move forward. To all of those that are struggling with whatever that struggle may be: we lift you up today. I know how hard moving forward will be. Yet, I also know what God can do because He did it for me. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Put your hope and trust in Him and He will part your Red Sea so that you can move forward.