Friday, November 26, 2010

Hemmed In

Israel crosses the Red Sea, image courtesy of www.bibla.ca
Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think,’ ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ "1

At some point, everyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ will find their faith challenged. Some may argue with this statement by asserting, “My faith in Christ has never wavered!

Faith that wavers and faith that is challenged are not one in the same.

Often when my faith was challenged, I have felt as if I were hemmed in; as though I had no way out. I believe that the enemy of my faith wants me to regret my decision to trust God with the outcome; to somehow believe I can turn around and go back.

The Israelites experienced this challenge in Pi Hahiroth:

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.2

Fear always accompanies a challenge to your faith. You feel trapped, realizing there is no way of escape. You can’t go back, you can’t go laterally to the left or right, and there in front of you is an obstacle with no visible pathway.

How do you combat fear?

All of us experience fear in some form. All of us deal with fear differently.

A woman waits nervously for her doctor to reveal the news of tests that were run. An athlete anxiously awaits the announcement of his name so that he can race onto the field of competition. A politician tentatively awaits her introduction to a packed audience. A family faces the uncertainty of losing their home unless they can somehow resume making their mortgage payments. A man waits for a job offer after enduring months of unemployment.

Each of these people found themselves in dire straits much like the Israelites were in this passage of scripture; they were hemmed in by their circumstances. God told Moses,

Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the [Red] Sea, before Baal-Zephon. You shall encamp opposite it by the sea.3

Israel reached a dead end at Etham. It was here that God told Moses to turn back. They then camped between the three geographic points of Pi-Hahiroth, Migdol, and Baal-Zephon (on the opposite side of the Red Sea). Etham was impassable, as was the impassable rocky terrain of Pi Hahiroth. Migdol was a military lookout post that many believe sent word to Pharaoh of the Israelites location. From their present position, the Israelites could see Baal-Zephon, but the Red Sea formed a gulf between the shores where they camped and the mountaintop view of Baal-Zephon. To make matters worse, they were being pursued by the military forces of Pharaoh’s army.

They were hemmed in!

They couldn’t go back to that life they left in Egypt, and it appeared as though they couldn’t escape Pharaoh’s army.

Watching as the Egyptians approached, fear grabbed them by the throat.

In their fear, they cried out to God. They cried out to the One who is The God of My Salvation. I wonder if they prayed, “God save me!

I’ve faced circumstances where I was hemmed in. Thinking about this passage of scripture, I can easily see myself in the position of Israel. I prayed for the God of miracles to rescue me. I called on the same God who provided a Pillar of Cloud and a Pillar of Fire, to demonstrate His miraculous power and might. Some may say that, “God works no miracles today.” Others may say, “There is no God.” But those who by faith trust in The Eternal God, believe that,

…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.4

I believe that God was leading Israel to a land of promise, but to get there, Israel had to go through trials. They face circumstances that pointed to The One True God as their Deliverer. Israel feared Pharaoh and his army. But God wanted them to move from the place of fear to the place of faith. To get them to the place of faith, God had to deliver Israel and demolish Pharaoh’s army.

To get you to the place of faith, God must deliver you and demolish what you fear.

While your circumstance may have you hemmed in, the place of faith lies ahead of you; to get there, you must move forward.

It doesn’t matter how God opens up your path, all that matters is that you trust Him with each step you take. Sometimes we may go through a Red Sea experience where the doctors have done all they can do, and the sickness has us hemmed in. We don’t know if we will escape, but God says,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
5

You may find yourself in the wilderness of the unemployed, hemmed in by the lack of opportunity. The bank may be ready to foreclose on your home but God is still the same. He loves and cares about every one of us.

When I’m hemmed in by fear and circumstance, I’ll remember to,

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.6

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
7

I may be hemmed in by my circumstance, but I’m not without hope. I’m not going to live in fear and hopelessness. I’ll trust God to deliver me. I’m going to walk right up to the shoreline; I’ll do my part and trust God to make a way.

Sovereign God,

I'm standing on the shores of my very own Red Sea experience; hemmed in by a circumstance, but I'm not afraid. You are the same, yesterday, today and forever; Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Though the enemy of my faith rages, I will not be afraid. You order both night and day, the dawn arises by Your word. You are The God of Miracles. You proved Yourself in the wilderness to Israel. You delivered them from Pharaoh and his army. You completely vanquished the enemy of Israel just as it is written, "The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." My life is in Your hands Lord; I put my faith and trust in You. I wait on You Lord. Open up the windows of heaven and pour Your blessings upon us. You give us more grace that we may resist the enemy. Thank You Lord for delivering us from our circumstance. We thank and praise You, we give You the glory You richly deserve. Amen.


Spiritual Sundays

Note: Several months ago, a blogger friend suggested I visit Charlotte and Ginger who host the blog Spiritual Sundays, and that I should link in with fellow bloggers who share encouraging and inspirational posts.
I believe you will find hearts ablaze with faith, love, compassion, kindness, humility, and fellowship in Christ. I encourage you to visit. You won't be disappointed.

Footnotes:
  1. Exodus 14:1-3, NIV
  2. Exodus 14:10, NIV
  3. Exodus 14:2, Amplified Bible
  4. Hebrews 11:6, NASB
  5. Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB
  6. Psalm 27:14, KJV
  7. Isaiah 40:31, NASB
References:
  1. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  4. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6
  5. Amplified Bible, BibleGateway.com


26 comments:

Wanda said...

MTJ, What an awesome word. As I looked at this scripture, I notice that they were following the instructions of God that led them to the place of being hemmed in. When one finds themselves in the in-between place, we can often doubt if we really heard God. God himself led the people there. In all of trials, God longs to give us a greater knowledge of Himself. Praying that has you stand at your own Red Sea, that you'll be able to see the glorify of God and come to know Him in a whole new way. Blessings to you.

Joan said...

This is a very encouraging post to anyone who is facing dire circumstances. I've had my own "hemmed in" experiences, and yes I was fearful. At times, I even doubted that God cared and wondered why He was allowing me to go through sch trials. But all along, He was there and He used those times to strengthen my faith and draw me into a closer relationship with Him. And yes, just when things felt hopeless, He parted my Red Sea.

Thank you for sharing this post.

Blessings,
Joan

High Heeled Life said...

Hi there .. thank you for your visit and wonderful words. Your writing in wonderful , I'm your newest follower and look forward to reading more of your writing.. blessings ..HHL

Crystal Mary said...

Hello, thank you for visiting my site. I see you have the same passion for God that I have...
I have been sorrowing over it lately because I am afaid I speak out at times and upset the apple cart. People want you to say what they want to hear. If something is wrong I say. If I am wrong I also say.
Sometimes I feel I should just go away be quiet and keep it all to myself. Then I reach out in love again and someone appreciates. Not all do, but then we are all different. God Bless you..One day we will all be with Him and know the joy of competion. Hugs CML

Karen said...

This is a timely word and you communicated it well. Hemmed in but never defeated! God bless you today.

Saleslady371 said...

So much encouragement here about being hemmed in like in Exodus 14! Circumstances are bad enough and then comes the fear! Thank you for this post and the prayer at the end.

sarah said...

I know even if things look very bad...He'll turn it around and make it good. I've had a real hard time with trust in my life....but I trust Him....with my all my heart. Your posts always encourge me....always speak to my heart. Have a great weekend...☺

Nicole said...

Another great post my brother!! I think we have all been hemmed in at some point and for a lot it is so easy to just give up. Having faith in what our Father is leading us to, even though there might be trials we have to keep that faith! Knowing that He will always be there for us through it all always helps! )Might not at the moment :) ) Having Him there to lean on, there is no one better to comfort us!

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

I want to be close to the Lord when things are perfect and go to him with bended knees to thank him, just like I would in time of need. Thank-you for this post.
Blessings,
Ginger

Ruth said...

Hi MTJ, this is a very inspiring post. i guess all of us without exception face such circumstances in life where we feel hemmed in... i'm glad i stopped by.. you are a blessing!

Sue said...

Thank you for sharing this most inspiring word, Yes I know what it feels like to be hemmed in, I am so thankful that I knew who to call upon to come to my rescue. And I am so thankful that He heard and that He did, sometimes quick, other times not so quick, but through it al He was and still remains so faithful.
Most inspiring word today.
Sue

daylily777 said...

Amen ! All believers will experience such times in their lives. It is the only way for God to grow us in Faith . I always tell someone when I see this happening , Never give up & go back to the world , there is nothing there for you . The just live by Faith & not by Sight.
Blessings,
~Myrna

Charlotte said...

We can learn many lessons from the Israelites and their wandering in the wilderness, crossing the Red Sea and finally entering the promised land. I like the way you compared our struggles with theirs. Yes, God is still in the "delivery business." Thank you for pointing it out so well.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Donnie said...

Lovely photo and words. Have a blessed day.

Anita Johnson said...

This was an excellent post! I love your prayer at the end. I'm so glad you left me a comment so that I could visit here! Thank you!

Cathy said...

Amen. God is our hope, and we put our faith and trust in Him. Prayers and Blessings ~

Mari said...

I never thought of it that way , but it is so certain that in order to get to the place of faith, God must deliver us and demolish what we fear.

I it also comforting to know that God plans ahead of us and that the moments in test will only lead us to a true victory when we learned to deposit our fears with MIGHTY faith in the Lord's hands.

Have a blessed day :)

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ -

How often am I hemmed in by fear? Too many times to count, I'm afraid. So many times I've been at the Red Sea - raging waters in front of me, an angry army quickly approaching from behind.

But as you have so wisely said, that is EXACTLY where God wants me to be! He is waiting to demolish and deliver! He whispers to me, "Be still. Trust Me."

Faith challenges are opportunities to grow.

Lord, give me the courage to stand fast, to stand true, to stand...

"Then Moses told the people, 'Don't be afraid. Just STAND STILL and watch the LORD rescue you today...The LORD himself will fight for you. JUST STAY CALM.'" (Exodus 14:13-14)

LOVE IT...

GOD BLESS!

Karen said...

"I may be hemmed in by my circumstance, but I’m not without hope. "...amen for that hope that never fails...

Wonderful post!

Marta Belas Artes said...

Hi MTJ, thank you for visiting my blog, I loved. Your opinion is very important for me. Kisses. Bye.

Jane said...

Thank you for finding time to email me brother, thank you for your special friendship. The Lord will lead you through your red-sea experience, brother. You may be hemmed-in, but the Lord is not hemmed-out of your life to touch you and your loved ones. :)

Lloyd said...

MTJ, I think that we all sometimes feel "hemmed in" with life in general, but thanks be it to our Lord and Savior, He always gives us the Blessed Hope we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Blessings and prayers to you my brother in Christ. Lloyd

B. Niles said...

MTJ, with God, ALL things are possible. You are more than a conqueror. You are victorious.

What you are going through is developing your perseverance and providing an example for those who are watching and following. Stand and see the salvation of the Lord.

May the Lord give you the strength, wisdom and direction to make it through this trial of your faith in Jesus' name. Amen!

God is with you.

Beverly

Peggy (mazmagi) said...

Many blessings MTJ...

I'm behind again... but I'll catch up as I ponder many inspirational thoughts that you have woven together from experiences in the wildness, the desert to the promised land for the Biblical times to our personal "hemmed in", fear filled or hopeless circumstances to our deliverance,
strength and faith building, filled with a New Hope and New life and His Holy Spirit...

"While your circumstance may have you hemmed in, the place of faith lies ahead of you; to get there, you must move forward."

This is what personally struck me and made me feel this was written just for me (and the 23 previous readers)... because my theme song for 2010 was MOVING FORWARD (it's on my right sidebar) withIsrael Houghton(originally by Ricardo Sanchez and Hezekiah Walker does it too).

"I'm not going back
I'm moving ahead
I'm here to declare to you
My past is over in you
All things are made new
Surrendered my life to Christ
I'm moving, moving forward..."

But the song that came to me while reading was the great one by Don Moen, "God Will Make a Way".

Guess I have music in my head tonight! Thank you also for sharing one of my favorite scripture verse
from Isaiah 40...which brings another song to mind and my dear brother. I read this passage at his funeral.

Whatever Red Sea shore that you are standing on, I pray that God clearly parts the way and shows you how with His wisdom and grace since you already have overcome the fear factor with His strength and courage! So thankful that He is the same, yesterday today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8)! He is the God of Miracles still today as we trust and believe!!! Amen, amen and amen to your prayer...in Jesus' victory, we shall overcome the enemy and defeat what hems us in, be delivered from our circumstances and give Him all the glory, honor and praise that indeed He so richly deserves!!!

Praise God! May our faith increase!
May our hope rise up! May our love conquer all that may have been meant for our harm that we will see turned around for our good and God's glory in Jesus' Name!

We're MOVING FORWARD!!!
Peace and JOY...
Peggy

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

I enjoyed this well expressed and truth filled piece.

It is so wonderful that we can depend on our Lord to rescue us.
Forever He is faithful!

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

I often think about this idea of being "hemmed in." I haven't exactly thought of it in these terms, but close.

I think about some godly people who go through difficult circumstances. I marvel at their faith even when things don't go "their way." But even when that happens, though they're hemmed in, they trust God that He will give them strength and perseverance.

Some of these pillars of faith die from cancer. Some lose their businesses. Some are cured and find a miracle in the midst of their circumstances. You kind of made this point. But something happens. Others see their example, how they endured, and are drawn to Christ as a result. That, to me, is an even greater reward.

We may not always know why we go through stuff. But God does. God has an eternal perspective. And that's where faith and trust really count.

Thanks for an excellent and though-provoking post! God bless and have a wonderful Merry CHRISTmas!