Walking into an Impossibility
Walking into an Impossibility (Exodus 14:10-20)
The power of God is displayed when we move beyond our possibilities. The Hebrew slaves found themselves surrounded by the impossible. Before them was the sea, beside them was the desert, and behind them was the enemy. They faced three alternatives. They could go back to Egypt, stand still where they were, or go forward. God commanded them to walk into the impossibility.
Travis Avenue Baptist Church is at one such crossroad today. Behind us is a great history of walking forward. In front of us is one of the greater challenges in the history of our church. We must decide to walk forward into that challenge.
In the Face of an Impossibility We Can Say, "Go Back."
We may wish to go back when God has just begun to go forward. The Hebrews wanted to go back when they had only begun to go forward under the blessing of God. They thought the beginning was the end. This was the first real challenge they had faced after God delivered them.
They wanted to do the right thing the wrong way. They cried out to God, but they cried out in fear rather than faith. It was right to call on God but wrong to call on Him in fear. They did the wrong thing. They blamed their leadership. They did the unthinkable thing. They wanted to reverse God's blessings and cancel their own history. More than anything else they did the inexcusable thing. They ignored the blessings of God in the past and the providences of God they had already seen.
Travis Avenue Baptist Church has never said, "We will go back." The seventy-six years of our church's history has never witnessed a generation or a pastor who said, "Go back." If we went back, where would we go? Nowhere but decline and oblivion. We must go forward.
In the Face of an Impossibility Some Say, "Stand Still."
Some wish to go neither backward nor forward. They desire to freeze in the present. They stand in paralysis in the midst of opportunity. Moses was going in the right direction when he said, "Stand still." But not far enough. He believed in divine blessing but not strongly enough in human initiative. He believed in the divine reality but not strongly enough in human risk. He believed in divine initiative but not strongly enough in human participation.
It is never enough to stand still. Travis Avenue does not have the luxury to say we will stay where we are. Churches do not in fact stand still. They are always moving forward or starting backward. Christians do not stand still. Every day we are either higher or lower in our relationship to God.
In the Face of an Impossibility God Says, "Go Forward."
There is a divine timing in going forward. There is a time to pray but there is also a time to act. In verse 15, the Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on." The time for praying was past, the time for acting had come. There is also a time of risk. God told the Israelites to move on into the impossibility. Certainly we should not risk in an imprudent way that tests God. But risk we must. Human instruments often seem insufficient for that risk. An eighty-year-old shepherd holding out a wooden rod over a sea did not appear sufficient for the situation. But it was the rod of God. It was God who said, "Go forward."
There is a glory when God says, "Go forward." Throughout this message the emphasis rests on the glory given to God in the situation. Note verse 18 says "The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen."
There is a divine protection when God says, "Go forward." That mysterious, mystical cloud that had been in front of them moved behind them. God gave them a supernatural protection between them and everything that would harm them.
Travis Avenue Baptist Church is at a crossroads to go forward. The generations before us in this place risked much. Movement forward will give God glory.
This is also true personally. Every Christian must move forward. We can live in the faith of Paul who said, "He who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Phil. 1:6).