What a year.
A few months ago I was at an event where bestselling author Ann Voskamp spoke about the Red Sea Road. She was referring to the biblical tale of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt when they reach the impassable Red Sea. As their enemies closed on them, God parted the waters for them to escape safely on dry ground.
Voskamp likened that imagery to our life’s struggles, where sometimes we have no reason for hope. We all go through times when we stare at the Red Sea, desperate to cross it, but feeling trapped, defeated and hopeless. She reminded us to trust God to make a way when there is no way.
Those hard times remind our souls to trust something bigger than us; to believe the Red Sea Road will lead us to safety, not death. If we believe God parts the waters then we have to trust we’ll make it to the other side—to freedom.
It’s terrifying and reassuring at the same time.
I was captivated by Voskamp’s talk; for the most part, my life was good. The only challenge at that time was an ongoing debate about whether to pounce on an exciting job opportunity that came up. And just to be clear: I’m not comparing my old job to slavery (the people and the mission were amazing) but it was clear to me that my time in “Egypt” was coming to an end.
It was a surprisingly difficult decision. Even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to stay, it was hard to leave the familiar. It was safe, it was comfortable but I knew something was waiting for me. I needed that. So I walked that path.
The week after that talk my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our Red Sea.
We felt utterly helpless and burdened by fear but we had an army of people praying for us and that made all the difference. Through appointments, tests, surgery, recovery and the intolerable wait for test results, we had peace. We were like the Israelites: on the way to freedom but stopped at an impassable point.
We trusted God to make a way when there was no way. And He did. Our job was to hold onto the hope that we’d make it to the other side. And we did.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
- Exodus 14:13-14, NIV
Shortly after her surgery, and before we knew what future treatments awaited, Bre said to me: “I don’t know how the timing will all work out but I know our next step.” We (obviously) put the new job on hold while we faced the cancer diagnosis but we felt peace about picking it up again, in spite of the many what-ifs.
We didn’t know if she’d need chemo or radiation, or how the next year of our life would look but we knew the Red Sea Road was leading us somewhere.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
- Exodus 14:21-22
It’s always easier to look back and share a story like this with confidence but at the time, we weren’t sure of much; only that He called us to this point, He would carry us through it and we would be okay on the other side. So we took the next steps: I accepted the new role, notified my employer and kept praying.
Changing jobs is hard enough. Making a move like this with so many unknowns circling our life likely seemed illogical to some and reckless to others. Faith is like that sometimes.
We stepped away from the familiar shore we’d known for years headed towards a land we hadn’t yet seen. I remember the anxiety that stirred in my heart—somewhere around the midpoint, where neither side was within reach—wondering if we’d made a mistake.
It’s amazing what fear (yours and others) does to faith.
What once felt right now felt crazy, but we weren’t turning back. We continued through the parted sea, trusting that neither wall of water would collapse.
We finally got a date for the all-important follow-up appointment when we’d learn the test results that determined our next steps. It just happened to fall in the week where I was finishing at one job and we were preparing to launch into the new adventure.
Would Bre need chemo or was this the end of the road?
Guess what! That was the end. No chemo, no radiation, no more cancer.
Months of fear, prayer and walking in faith; we knew God was with us on that Red Sea Road, regardless of where it led. Thankfully, we made it to the opposite shore much sooner than expected. Initially, we felt defeated and hopeless, but in time our hearts moved towards peace, joy and hope. Our souls moved closer to freedom.
This isn’t the end of our journey, nor is it the last Red Sea Road we’ll walk in our lifetime, but we’re thrilled to be here experiencing a small taste of the greater freedom that awaits.