In the last post, I talked about the big moments we can recall in vivid detail. We remember who was with us, what happened, how it felt. Often, we share how that moment changed our life.
I shared one moment that is talked about a lot in scripture- I call it the RED SEA story -when the children of Israel were caught between death – and death. It was that moment when God showed up like he had never shown up before and they were saved. (You can read more about that in the post from yesterday)
I’m guessing that even as you read that description, you immediately think of one or more occasions in your own story that changed you.
I wish we could sit over a cup of coffee and share those moments together. I would love to hear about the moment that changed you in the comments section or via email at email@example.com.
For now, I’ll share my story RED SEA moment with you. It was the day my 15 year old daughter, Leisha, died.
I didn’t know how I was going to survive the grief tunnel any more than the children of Israel knew how they were going to get out of Egypt, or get through the Red Sea.
God had to show up! And he had to show up differently than he ever had before!
The path that led through the grief tunnel was much like the path led through the RED SEA for the Israelites. It’s not a path I ever wanted to take, but it was the ‘less frightening’ choice.
That journey through grief was a terrifying feeling of being in a really dark tunnel where the mud was up past the top of my head and I couldn’t move a finger let alone breathe.
I tried desperately to fight my way out of this. I flailed my arms, my hands turned to fists when I was angry or fearful in grief. The harder I tried, the deeper I sank into the mud, into the darkness.
I’ve often thought that the children of Israel must have been terrified going through the RED SEA. Even though they were right in the middle of a miracle. But when we are so full of fear, it is often difficult to see and embrace what is really happening.
I would have forgotten much of my own story if I hadn’t taken the time to reflect occasionally along the way. That’s is the power of telling and retelling your stories. First we must pay attention to them enough to hear the story ourselves. Then as we retell it – the truth of the moment and how it changed us is confirmed.
It occurred to me also that the Red Sea moment was in some ways an ACT 3 in the story of the Israelites- a place of victory over their enemy. But in other ways it was the ‘inciting incident’ in an ACT 1 that introduces a journey that was yet to happen.
Even though the Israelites were desperately trying to leave the land, as I read through the story again I noticed their emotions were stuck remembering what it was like to be in Egypt–pressed, pushed, driven, forced, raped of their own thoughts, feelings, emotions by the Egyptians. After all, you can’t just erase over 400 years they had been in Egypt and the bitterness that had grown with each passing generation.
They went with Moses, knowing God was leading them out of Egypt, but they were still fearful, still complaining, still doubting even after allthe miracles they saw.
But in other ways, the Red Sea changed everything.
They had to learn to be themselves as free people.
They had to learn to trust again.
They had to learn to experience life again.
Their lives had changed, their perspective on their lives and on God had changed. But God continued to instruct them to live out their values, the principles he had taught them.
In some ways, after Leisha’s death, I was the same old me! I still wore the same clothes, still lived in the same house in the middle of the same cornfield. I still had the same skills that I had before she died. I had the same stories from my past. I had the same husband and daughters (though now one was missing) and parents and sisters and brothers and friends.
But in every other way, I had to start all over.
- I had to learn to breathe again, enduring the rank smell of grief.
- I had to learn to walk again, even as I struggled to move forward in the muck of grief.
- I had to learn to see again, even as the darkness of the tunnel seemed to envelop my entire being.
But I wasn’t seeing with my physical eyes. No, I had to close my eyes so I could see with the eyes of my heart.
- I had to learn to listen for a word, or a sound, or a song.
- I had to learn to touch again; with passion for Rennie, with freedom for my girls, without overwhelming fear of losing again.
- I had to learn to look for light and to feel its warmth.
When the way I used to do life failed me, or the methods I had previously practiced to seek the Lord felt empty, I felt like God wasn’t there. I would form fists with my hands and accuse him that he had abandoned me and left me to find my way out of this darkness alone.
Yet just like God reminded the Israelites to remember their values from their past, gradually promises I had learned even as a small child began to surface in my thinking.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Did I believe that these were indeed promises of God? Yes! I did believe him!
Would he have lied to me when he said he would not leave me– not ever? No! He would not lie!
He might not be there like he used to be, but I had to believe that he was showing up now. I just had to learn to NOTICE when God showed up differently.
Leisha’s death was and ending- and a beginning of a new life. Usually our circumstances remain the same. We still stand between death- and death.
But when we choose to embrace our grief, our brokenness and take the path before us, then we can move through grief and into God’s healing.
What changes when a moment changes your life?
What is the moment that changed your life? How did it change you?
I’ve poured a cup of coffee. I’m ready to listen to your story. Leave your comment below- or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some ways you might think this is an ‘end’ post. But it turns out we are never finished learning from our story– but I’ll share more about that in the upcoming posts. See you then.
I hope you take some time to read through the book of Exodus to see the incredible ways God showed up for the children of Israel.
Interested in reading more about my RED SEA story,
Click here to get CHAPTER 15 from Lovely Traces of Hope.