Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!”
The Israelites took their bread dough before yeast was added. They wrapped their kneading boards in their cloaks and carried them on their shoulders. Exodus 12:31-34
It had been a long and trying time in the lives of the Israelites. They had been slaves, mistreated, forced to work under harsh conditions. This was no way for the Israelites—the chosen people of Yahweh—to be treated. They had groaned under their pain, and begged God to set them free.
And now this. In the middle of the night, they are thrown out of Egypt. Forced to flee on foot. Running from the only place they had ever known as home. Yes, they were miserable, but being thrust out of their comfort zone was such a mind-boggling concept.
They had longed for freedom, but what was outside Egypt? What uknowns would they face as they went toward the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey?
I am willing to bet the Israelites were not fully prepared for the journey. They were probably filled with mixed emotions. They were excited about their freedom and yet afraid of the journey. They were filled with hope and expectation about the wonders of the Promised Land and yet uncertain about the journey.
Did they expect the journey to be easy? Did they anticipate forty years of wandering in the wilderness? Did they ever dream they would face the Red Sea and see the waters part and walk through on dry land? Did they know they would exist on a strange substance known as manna? Did they think they would long for the comforts of slavery?
What exactly went through their minds as they fled their homes in the middle of the night?
The journey of the Israelites out of Egypt is much like my own escape from my marriage. Yes, I was in bondage to a miserable marriage. I faced verbal and mental and emotional abuse. I knew I was stuck, a prisoner in an unhealthy relationship. I knew God was calling me out of bondage, setting me free. I knew there was a Promised Land around the corner.
But, I was terrified. I was leaving the only home I had known as an adult. I was walking into the wilderness of an unknown journey. I had the hope of a Promised Land where everything I was losing would be redeemed, but I had no idea how long I would wander in the wilderness waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.
I knew God would be with me, but I also expected the journey to be so different. I thought God was going to swoop down and usher me directly into the new future He was preparing for me. I didn’t realize there would be giants to fight and seas to cross. I had no idea I would be faced with existing on strange sustenance and would miss the comforts of my bondage.
There were days that were so much fun, so exciting! There were miracles like watching the Red Sea part in front of me! Maybe not quite as drastic, but I saw my income double and triple and quadruple as God reminded me how He was my provider. There was the time an unknown, precious soul sent me money—the exact amount I needed for the orthodontic treatment I was trying to get for my daughter.
Sadly, like the Israelites, I experienced miracles firsthand—and then found myself grumbling and complaining. “Oh, this journey is just too hard, God! When will you rescue me?” Isn’t that what the Israelites did time after time? They crossed the Red Sea and sang great songs of joy and worship. Turn the page of your Bible, and immediately they are grumbling about being hungry and thirsty.
Isn’t that exactly what we still do today? We watch in amazement as we see God at work. We stand back and sing songs of praise, rejoicing over His goodness. And then we turn to find something else we don’t like, some minor irritation, and we begin grumbling and complaining about this journey. We forget that we were in bondage, we were slaves in a miserable condition, but God is in the process of setting us free.
In the process…
Those are key words we must remember. Freedom is not an immediate change (most of the time). Instead, it is a process, a journey. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes focus on the important things in life. It takes surrender. It takes determination. It takes resolve to face the many trials, to get up after you fall down. It takes a mindset that says this is a season, a season that will change me, a season that has a beginning and an end.
It requires a faith that God is bigger than every enemy, that He will use this time to mold you into His image.
Do you know what else happened to the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness?
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. Deuteronomy 8:2-5
First, God led them. Every single step of the way. He was faithful to guide their steps, to show them where to go.
Second, God changed them. He humbled them. He tested their character. He showed them the condition of their hearts.
Third, He provided for their needs. Manna. Quail. Water. Exactly what they needed. Exactly when they needed it. Never too early. Most definitely never too late.
Fourth, He taught them how much they needed Him. He showed them the power of His word, of His commands.
And that was the same experience I had on my journey to healing from divorce. He cared for my needs and changed me in ways I never expected. I was horrified at the true condition of my heart, not realizing how much pride I had carried every day. He guided my steps as we walked together to the Promised Land. He fought every giant and showed me how much better life is with Him by my side. It was not an easy journey, but it has definitely been a rewarding one.
And that’s what He wants for you. He wants to set you free from your bondage, to lead you on a journey to freedom in Him. I don’t know what is keeping you in bondage: abuse, adultery, addiction, pride, bitterness, anger. I don’t know what hurt you keep holding onto.
But I do know if you will surrender it to Him, He will take you on a journey that will forever change you. He will take your ordinary life and make it extraordinary.
He will do a mighty work in you so He can do a mighty work through you.