What If “Red” Meant Go?

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It’s basic: green is go and red is stop. My little backseat drivers managed to grasp that concept before the age of three. And the idea works very well with things such as traffic flow, but on other things in life, not so much. It’s so ingrained into our reasoning that when we meet opposition it means we need to stop and either wait for our circumstances to change or for a chance to make a turn on red and go another direction.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Lord guided him to the Red Sea. With the approaching Egyptians at their back and the sea before them, they panicked. Moses’ response to them is often quoted, “…And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.'”(Exodus 14:13-14)

This sounds wonderful! Stand firm…don’t be afraid…just watch and see God do something and keep your feet planted where you are! No need to move on until the enemy is dealt with. Then it would make perfect sense to turn back the direction they came and go around the Red Sea.

But, no, this is not the final thought! I’ll admit, I get a bit irritated when I hear teachers end on this verse and completely neglect the very next one. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.'” (Exodus 14:15) Then God gives Moses very bizarre instructions about holding up his staff over the water so that it will divide. And then, even more strange, the Lord says the people will WALK across dry land where currently the Red Sea blocks their path. Yep, it’s weird. It’s not logical. Thankfully Moses didn’t protest based upon the weirdness factor!

So, Moses makes an initial claim that the Israelites need to just stay put. Then the Lord refutes that claim, and gives an order to move forward despite the “red light”…despite the reality of the Red Sea standing right in their path. (And yes, I’m kind of amused at how it’s called the “Red Sea” when I had zero intention of connecting those dots as I sat down to write. See, God’s funny!) Moses…a godly, wise leader. The Lord…well, is the Lord. Moses…a bold claim that nevertheless makes some sense. The Lord…a just plain bizarre statement. Moses…trusting that God can handle the whole fight (which is true!) The Lord…inviting the Israelites to be a part of something miraculous!

The “Red” to the Israelites actually meant “go”…not “stop”. This is why it’s so important to be able to hear God’s voice speaking just as well, and even better, than we hear our own. We can conjure up great logic, or even some great “faith”, hoping that God will just make things smooth for us. And sometimes our logic works…and sometimes He does just make things go smoothly. But oftentimes, because He would rather have an ongoing relationship with us where we talk with Him and actually listen for His thoughts on a matter, He lets us walk through some illogical situations and difficult circumstances. He wants us to be a part of something miraculous…not just sit on the shore and watch!

Are you sitting at a “red light” in some area, waiting for God to just make things easy before you move forward? Are you getting frustrated in your waiting and seriously considering making that illegal left turn to get out of this situation? Are you afraid of getting stuck here?

Moses may have made a claim which God corrected, but he did do a few things right: Moses trusted in God’s ability to handle whatever situation they faced…Moses talked with God AND even more importantly he listened to the Lord’s response…and then, after hearing a weird command, he didn’t question or lay out all the logical objections. He just moved forward in the path God set before them. Simple…illogical…miraculous.