When we read of the journey of God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, the first thing most folks marvel at is their lack of faith. I sure do. At times, they even mention how it would be nice to head back into slavery so they could eat vegetables (Numbers 11:5). Hmmm….I can’t imagine missing vegetables that much…..But its more than vegetables I think-to be honest they also missed the Tilapia as well-it’s the certainty of veggies. What I mean is that in Egypt, they had a constant water source. A little river called the Nile provided all the water needed to maintain a pretty aggressive agrarian advantage.
In Israel, folks had the Jordan River. Unfortunately it provided next to nothing in regards to irrigation. So they had to rely upon rain from above.
Now when God’s people finally arrived in Israel, and conquered the land, there wasn’t much talk about going back to Egypt. Instead of wanting to give up, they chased after the fertility god Baal. Either give up or get or another god who could do the trick. Or they could rely upon God to provide for them in the midst of uncertainty. They had to pray for rain. What? Yep, they really didn’t have to do that before. If Egypt had rain gods, they weren’t ones you’d have on speed dial. Now they had to actually pray for rain.
After being down here in FL a week, and having worshiped in a great church this Sunday, it really hit home the fact that I’m no longer have a Nile. I came from land which offered a proverbial Nile, flowing with friends for us, friends for our kids, a great church where I served. It provided a certainty that wasn’t wrong in any sense, but it was a certainty we felt called to leave behind.
Again, Florida is not the promised land, just as WV wasn’t Egypt. We are extremely excited to have been called back to the area where we feel is really home for us. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being back and have been thankful everyday for this opportunity to plant a church here. But for our family, and for many who will take the step of faith and join us on this journey, we have no Nile. We won’t be able to see a church right away. We won’t be able to see now what will become of this church plant 2-3 years down the road. We won’t know exactly from where all of our friends, or kids’ friends will come. We won’t know what children’s ministry, and youth group will look like, now.
And so we will be left with only one option: looking up to the heavens, from whence our help comes (Psalm 121). Those things which we could see before, have been veiled for us this season. But that doesn’t mean anything other than God is offering us an opportunity to trust Him for what we can’t see. Things we normally didn’t have to trust him for, we are having to do so now.
It is scary. But it is also pretty cool. Just two nights ago, Connar really wanted to meet some new friends. He had friends galore in WV. We didn’t pray too much for that. But now in FL, we prayed for exactly that. And in one hour, we had an invitation to the beach from a family with a 5 year old.
I know things won’t always be answered so quickly. And even though it is hard to not have the certainty of a river, it is pretty cool when you see God provide for things you would normally not have prayed for. In the end, there just might be more joy in timely rain than the steady flow of a river. I can’t say for certain because I’m not there yet. But I can only imagine.
Not everyone is called to leave and start or join a new church plant. In fact, most probably aren’t. But those who support and leave just may find God answering prayers for things they never thought they’d be praying for. And consequently they may just receive more joy in the “ordinary” invitations and opportunities which come by rain instead of by river.