6/3/2019 9:50:19 AM
Always With You
About 8% of men and .5% of women suffer from this affliction. It isn’t something they have, it’s something they lack. It doesn’t affect how long you live and has no bearing on your heart, lungs, or brain. Do you know what the affliction is? It’s being colorblind.
That was a problem that Savannah Allen had when she enrolled in Dental Hygienist School at the University of Cincinnati. The problem is that whenever she looked at green, she saw brown. And whenever she looked at red, she saw brown. And it’s pretty tough to be a dental hygienist when you can’t really see what’s on people’s teeth. So her friends did some research and then chipped in together to buy special glasses so that Savannah could actually see colors. When she put them on she was overjoyed, was confident that could make it through school, and was grateful for her friends. But the reality is that those colors that Savannah couldn’t see… they were always there. She just couldn’t see them.
And that’s kind of like Jesus’ Ascension – he’s at God’s right hand taking care of you and me and ruling his world for our benefit. But we often don’t see it. Just because we don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there. He is. That same truth was the problem for a couple million Israelites who had left Egypt under the leadership of Moses. They didn’t see – at first – that their God was there and fighting for them. But the God who rules the universe is the God who rescues. He was with his children that day and he’s with us, even though we can’t always see him.
READ EXODUS 14:21-31
Can you imagine the fear, the panic, the anxiety that the Israelites had? The Red Sea was in front of the Israelites and Pharaoh’s army was behind them. There was nothing they could do. They would have nothing to do with their eventual safety. Like a colorblind person just cannot see the reds or greens that are right there, the people couldn’t see a way out.
You and I don’t face Egyptian armies but we often face the same feeling at different times in life: it’s the feeling of shame because of a problem we created and now there’s no way out, it’s the feeling of stress of a job we aren’t able to do or financial debt that we can’t get out of, it’s the knowledge that there’s something seriously wrong with my marriage and I just can’t fix it, it’s the feeling of knowing a person you love might be slipping away from the arms of Jesus and you’ve tried and tried and you’re at a loss of what to do, it’s the feeling that the prayers that God promised to answer aren’t being answered, it’s the child of God caught in an addiction and they feel they can’t tell anyone. And you know what all these have in common? It’s the feeling of being alone. All alone. That’s exactly what the Israelites felt.
The truth is the Israelites weren’t alone. The God who promised to bring them out of their Egyptian slavery was always there. Look at how Moses described God in action: “the Lord drove the sea back…” “threw [the Egyptian army] into confusion” “he jammed the wheels” “the Lord swept them into the sea.” Psalm 77 adds that God sent thunder and lightning and pouring rain on Pharaoh’s army. Even the Egyptian army recognized what was happening as they concluded, “The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” Nothing the Israelites feared in the beginning ended up touching them in the end.
Earlier God told Moses, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still” (v.14). That same God still fights for you today….even when you can’t see him, even when you have that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, even when you feel alone. He still fights for you because this God we call the “LORD” (Jehovah or Yahweh in the original language of the Old Testament) values every human soul he created – that includes you. The value he placed on you leads him to fight for you, to rescue you – not just from those horrible, scary moments in life, but a horrible, scary eternity.
I don’t know what your Memorial Day looked like but on Monday our family went to the parade in Appleton. Memorial Day parades are filled with different military groups, POW remembrances, reminders of soldiers missing in action, etc. The whole idea of Memorial Day is to remember those who fought for our country and gave up their life so we could have freedom. The reason so many are willing to fight for our country is the value they place on freedom. In the same way your God has placed huge value on you. The value he placed on you led the Lord to become one of us. Jesus’ life on this planet was not a fun field trip to help him escape the monotony of heaven. No he came here dialed in to saving you….with no less power and love than he showed that day at the Red Sea. At the cross Jesus parted the uncountable depth of your sins so that you could walk to God at the time of your death, with no devil chasing you. There is no other god who both valued human life and then rescued human life.
That God saved you on a Friday afternoon almost 2000 years ago. Then he kicked the devil out of your heart and took control of you at your baptism and he’s been fighting for you, fighting to save you, ever since. He’ll fight for you, at your side, until the last breath you take and the last beat of your heart brings you home to heaven.
Did you notice that the Rescuer, the Deliverer for his chosen people that day…was also the judge for those who opposed him that day? It’s a sobering thought. He brought a horrible judgment from heaven that ended the time of grace for every soldier deployed in Pharaoh’s army that day. And the news of their deaths……never came. You see, with no survivors the Egyptian army vanished that day from the face of the earth in mystery. Kind of like the Malaysia Flight 370 that disappeared over the Indian Ocean back in 2014. At some point everyone knew they died, but they didn’t know where or when or how. For the Egyptians who had opposed the true God, the only Deliverer and Rescuer, he was their Judge.
Does that sound familiar? On this celebration of Jesus’ Ascension, we believe and confess that after defeating sin on Good Friday and defeating death on Easter Sunday, the Savior ascended in glory to the right hand of God 40 days later. And what’s next? He will come back to….to judge the living and the dead. That means that if any person, including all of us here today, refuses to meet Jesus as our Savior and Deliverer, all that’s left is to meet him as Judge.
But does any of this mean anything – or change anything – for you? Maybe for some you, at this very moment, you feel like you are at the Red Sea. Maybe you feel all alone? And you don’t see the waters parting and there is no pillar of fire shining brightly for you. You know your God is there but you just can’t see him no matter how hard you try. Take comfort and find strength in this: the same God who sent that wind to part the waters and who later stopped the wind on the Sea of Galilee is the Ascended Lord and King. Now at the right hand of God the Father he knows every single detail of your struggles right now. He knows better than you which of them are serious and which of them are insignificant. He also knows what your life will look like five years from now, ten years from now, and twenty years from now. And he knows how he will bring you through whatever it is that you’re going through—not “if” he will bring you through by he knows “how.” If he can part waters and if he can defeat Satan himself and then overcome death as well….then he can help you. To remind us that the Ascended Jesus is able and willing to do that, the Apostle Paul reminded us: “And God place all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:22). Everything God does – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working together in perfect harmony – is for you. As bad as you might feel on your worst day or as alone as you might feel when you feel no one is there for you…..remember that the Ascended Jesus is right by your side, even though you can’t see him.
How did it end? “And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” They stood in awe of the God who loved them and fought for them. They trusted that same God to take of them, filling every need they would ever have (food, water, clothes, money, happiness, health, friends, forgiveness, peace, contentment). And so can you.
For those who experienced the miracle at the Red Sea that day, what do you think they told their kids or their grandkids or their friends who at times panicked or were afraid? I venture to say they said something like, “I was there that day and I saw the hand of God. I saw it! Even though I hadn’t seen it earlier, I saw it. So I’m not too worried about anything that life could throw at me.” You, too, can know and see that your ascended Jesus will fight for you because he is with you! Even if you happen to be colorblind. Amen.