First Things First: Just Hush!

red sea wves high turquoise

Hush.  Just Hush.

That’s what God told me to do.

There’s an eleven-year-story here. It’s a good story, I’m telling you. It’s good, not because we are, but because God is good.

But first, a true story from the Bible and a sermon from that story.

One Sunday our pastor preached about the time the Children of Israel left Egypt and their life of slavery. You might know the story of the time Moses led the Israelites from the land of Pharaoh, heading toward the Promised Land. It’s found in Exodus 12-14.

They marched out in an orderly fashion. The book of Exodus says they were 600,000 men strong plus women and children, a mixed multitude, flocks, herds, and “much cattle.” God led them out by way of the wilderness and toward the Red Sea. You see, He had a plan for this journey, and He wanted them to understand His power and greatness; He wanted them to learn to trust Him.

Pharaoh (the headstrong, self-righteous leader of Egypt) played right into that plan. Pharaoh became upset with himself for allowing those slaves to leave his land. He came after them (no surprise for God, you can be sure). Pharaoh came after them with 600 chosen chariots and his best horsemen and captains. He was going to force these people to come back.

I wonder if this was a time when God said to all of Heaven, “Watch this!”?

red sea pillar and fire

God led His people using a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. This depicts them camped near the Red sea. Source: http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-route-goshen-red-sea.htm

So there they were, camped in the wilderness with the mountain on one side and the Red Sea on the other. There was no Hotel 6 leaving the light on for them; they were just camped in tents in that space between the mountain and the sea.

And Pharaoh showed up. He was still in the distance, but these people were afraid. (I probably would be, too.) They started complaining to Moses. (I probably would have complained also. What?! You really think you wouldn’t have?!)

They said things like, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Were there no graves where we could be buried there? Look at us now! We left Egypt just to die.”

Goodness, what a bunch of whiners.

Their leader Moses stretched himself up and said, “Just hush.” (Well, he didn’t really say those words but he might as well have, because he told them to “stand still.”)

He also told them, “The Lord is going to fight for you. So get up, stop complaining, and watch. God is getting ready to do something really big. You just hush now. Just watch. Be quiet. Watch this! See what God is going to do for you!”

RED SEA from site

This picture doesn’t do justice. We only see a few men here. In actuality, there were 600,000 men plus women and children! Source: http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-route-goshen-red-sea.htm

Then Moses stretched out his staff (they carried those things back in those days, and a staff was not a magic wand) toward the Red Sea. And you know what God did? He moved that water – all night long God moved that water back and by morning, the ground was dry. Guess who marched across that dry chasm in the Red Sea? All those people with cattle and herds. All of them.  Every. Single. One.  On totally dry ground.

So how wide a berth would there need to be for all those people to cross the Red Sea? Big, and wide, and long – that’s for sure. Even then, we’re talking a day or two to get almost two million people and their animals across.

Our pastor closed his message with the encouragement for us stand back and let God part the waters of our Red Sea – whatever that Red Sea was.

That week, I prayed for God to part our Red Sea.

red sea waves

 

Because of several financial situations we were facing, we had made a decision to try to consolidate some debt and wipe the slate clean.

Dave’s business is a one-man business, and we had some people who owed us money (some of which we will never see). There was also a credit card company that had increased its interest rate to the point that there was no end in sight. We had tried talking with them many times, but we got nowhere. I could give you the name, but that’s not the point of this story.

With the precarious financial situation and unpaid debts from others, we decided to make this move. Believe me, we had prayed about this a lot. We had to pray because it was a monumental step, and we wanted to be sure this was something we should be doing.

After weeks of working on this solution, we were ready to sign the papers. We were committing to some large payments for three months, but we felt we could do it. So what if we had to tighten our belts and eat more casseroles? So what if we gave up eating out for a few months? We’d make it with God’s help.

Dave told me, “If I stay healthy, I will be able to make this financial commitment.”

You can imagine my concern: what if Dave became ill or was in an accident and our income stopped?

So I called the company with whom we were dealing, and I spoke with the woman who was handling our account.

“If my husband stays healthy and doesn’t get hurt, we can make these payments,” I told her. “But what if he falls off a roof and breaks a leg, what happens then?” (Yes, I used those exact words.)

“If he falls off a roof and breaks a leg, you call me and we will talk,” Marian said.

Two weeks later, Dave slid off a roof and shattered both heels. He would be out of work for six months.

And God said, “Just watch and see what I am going to do.”

red sea seascape

I think I knew a little how those Israelites felt. “You brought us all the way here to have this happen?”

“We prayed about this and the doors opened; we had peace about taking this step, and now this?! God, You are not making any sense!”

One Sunday morning a week after Dave’s discharge from the hospital, I stayed home with our youngest while everyone else went to church. Lying on the sofa that morning, he expressed concern about how we were going to eat and pay our bills.

I had been poring over those chapters in Exodus, and my Bible practically opened to that story again. We read the account together. (I recommend that you go to the Scriptures when you need answers – or comfort.)

“When you don’t understand what God is doing, when you wonder how it’s going to work out, there’s only one thing left to do: stand still. Be quiet and watch and see what God will do,” I sermonized.

I needed the lesson as much – or more – than my eight-year-old did. In our living room that morning, we prayed together. My little guy prayed, and then I prayed.

We told God that we were not going to worry; instead, we were going to stand still and watch Him move back those waters so we could walk through on dry ground. When you’re really serious about that kind of prayer, you can get excited waiting to see what will happen next. (Excited and scared all at the same time – you bet.)

And God continued to say, “Stand still. Watch and see what I’m going to do.”

Let me tell you how God parted those waters!

Less than twenty-four hours after Dave was admitted to the hospital, I received a phone call with an offer of a loan for as long as it was needed. Unsolicited, unexpected, and unmerited was this offer.

Less than a week later, we received a call from another party with the same offer.

“How much do you need?” was his only question. “Tell me how much you need, and I’ll write a check.”

And I thought to myself, “I’ve been hushed!”

People we knew well and folks we hardly knew started sending money. It has never been more exciting to go get the mail than it was in those weeks following Dave’s accident. Cards of encouragement with assurance of the prayers of God’s people poured in every day. We opened each card and read every word.

Then the money started coming in. Some was given anonymously through our church; others sent cash or checks in the mail.

Widows on fixed incomes sent us checks, apologizing that they couldn’t send us more. Dave and I were touched because we knew that their gift was going to cause them to have to do without in some other areas.

I was shamed because there had been times when Dave was late coming home from work because he was helping one of these ladies, and I felt resentful because it pushed our supper an hour back. Each card and check included a note of how much Dave’s care for them had meant. Dave has a “rate” for widows and the elderly, and now God was responding three-fold through these dear widow ladies.

There were people who sent us gifts of $1,000 to $5,000 – not a loan, just a gift. There were others who offered to loan us money with no interest until we could get on our feet.

Our church held a char-grilled chicken barbecue fundraiser. Many, many folks from the community came. It was healing for Dave, sitting in his wheelchair, to visit with and thank each individual in person.

Several weeks after Dave’s accident, he stopped in at Boston Lumber Company  (a local business) to speak with the owner. Dave told him he had come to talk about the bill we had there.

Leigh Felton told him, “Don’t worry about the bill. I’ve told our bookkeeping department that there will be no interest charged until you are back on your feet. When you are able to pay it, just come in and pay.”

Do you have any idea how much not paying interest saved us during those months?!

And God continued to say, “Just hush!”

One morning Dave wrote a check for a bill. “I don’t know where the money is coming to pay for this,” he told me. “But we are going to trust God to provide and to show us what we can do.”

That same day when I brought in the mail, there was an envelope from a local church. Inside there was a check that more than covered the amount we needed.

With the check was a note from the church treasurer. “I am sorry I am just sending this now. Our church voted on giving you this money, and I left for vacation and forgot to send it. I just got back from vacation and I am just now putting it in the mail.”

We sat at the dining room table and cried together.

I felt like God was saying, “Take off your shoes; this place you are standing is holy ground.”

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

And God was saying, “Are you hushed yet?”

This is how God’s people work when God moves them.

No one but Dave and I knew the financial commitment we had made. We did not want our situation to bring out pity. We simply wanted to let God be God. He didn’t need any help from us.

red sea rocky shore

All He wanted us to do was “hush.”

When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River at the end of their forty-year trek through the wilderness to the Promised Land, God told them to carry twelve stones out of that river. They were to build an altar “so that you will not forget.”

God told them that the stones were not only to help them remember, but to help generations to come remember. “So that when your children ask you what these stones mean, you can tell them,” He said.

coast stones

Dave and I never want to forget what God has done for us. We don’t want our kids to forget how good and how gracious God has been.

Those first weeks were traumatic for our family. We took our oldest to college, and I applied for a job. Dave stayed home and vacuumed and emptied the dishwasher from his wheelchair. I went back to work, and our oldest daughter learned to cook without being able to call and ask me for help.

When I was to be off work at 5PM, Dave started watching for me before 5 and wondered aloud what was taking me so long to get home. Never mind that some days I couldn’t get off at 5 and that it always took at least twenty minutes to get home; he still thought I should be there by 5:15.

Dave needed help getting in and out of the shower; I was loading his wheelchair everywhere we went, and he cried when he went to Walmart and watched men in work clothes dash in to pick something up on their way back to work.

“All I can see are their feet,” he’d tell me.

We were blindsided by the emotional wreckage we experienced. Even though he would someday be able to work again, Dave suffered the most because he felt incapacitated as the provider for our family. He didn’t like being dependent on other people to help him get things done. We didn’t expect to find this emotional path so difficult.

Yet there was so much for which to thank God.

When the orthopedic doctor showed me the x-ray of Dave’s feet, I saw what looked like a shattered glass with every piece still in place. He did not need to have surgery.

While Dave experienced wonderful healing of his heels, his feet will never let him forget what happened. His fall from that roof flattened his arches and took out the space between the bones and the arch. He can’t pivot, which means no more basketball with his boys. He has a hard time running, and his kids say he waddles when he runs. When he’s on concrete for a day, his feet ache by evening.

For years after his accident, his feet stank. I’m talking a what-is-that-smell?! kind of odor. There were days we had to remove his shoes from the room (or the house) because the odor was so strong. I learned that the odor from his feet meant his feet were healing. Each odor episode left him with greater mobility in his ankles.

We’ve also invested in expensive socks and shoes (well worth the money for sure) to help his pain be less severe. The shoes and socks also help the odor from his feet.

Dave’s feet always hurt. Sometimes they hurt more than others, but he always has pain.

Every day. All day long.

Guess who never forgets what God did for him? Every pain is a reminder that he is able to walk and work.

Every ache. Every pain. Is it so we won’t forget?

When our last payment was made three months after the accident, I placed a call to Marion.

“Remember how I asked you what would happen if Dave fell off a roof and broke a leg?”

“I remember,” she replied cautiously.

“Well, he did fall off a roof; he shattered his heels and won’t be able to work for six months,” I told her.

There was total silence at the other end of the phone line. We are talking Total Silence.

I wonder if God said to all of Heaven then, “Watch this!”?

“This happened on August 11, and you will notice that we have met our obligation.”

“I see,” she said quietly. I could hear the unspoken questions in her voice.

“Let me tell you what happened,” I said. “God’s people came through. Our church held a fundraiser; people loaned us money; people gave us money; and we have met these payments because God moved His people, and they came through. This is who the church is. This is what the church does.”

She didn’t have a lot to say.

Stand still, oh Marion, and see His glory!

red sea parting

Getting ready to walk through on dry ground! Source: http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-route-goshen-red-sea.htm

When God parts the waters of our Red Sea, moving the water back thousands of feet so the people can walk through on dry ground, there is no doubt that it is His power at work. When He sends a wind that blows all night moving that water back; when He holds those walls of water back and the water stands up high while 600,000 men plus women, children, cattle, herds, mixed nationalities and sheep cross over to the other side, there is no doubt Whose power it is.

When God moves in the hearts of His people to give so generously, there is no doubt that He did the moving and the shaking.

We never want to forget.

So we asked God, “What can we do to give back to You? What altars are you asking us to build so that we will always remember?”

We’ve found some ways to give back.

We’re more cognizant of tragedies and fundraisers in our community – and we participate more. Dave has been known to stop in at our hospital or a home after an accident or illness of friends or acquaintances. He shares his story of God’s faithfulness, gives monetarily, and then he asks the recipient to just “pass it on.”

We are a foster family. You can read more about that here and here (page 28).

We’ve experienced and seen His glory. And we never, ever, ever want to forget.

So this August 11, 2015, we remember. It has been eleven years.

Please, God, help us.  Let us never forget.

red sea sunrise

To hear the song Hush, Don’t You Worry, Don’t Cry, by Acapella,  click on this link.

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