(Photo taken by Joel Muoz)

Written by Amanda

4/5/2017

My middle child has a favorite song. It’s a hybrid of a song he sings at AWANA with his own lyrics thrown in. Some nights I hear him, all thirty-seven pounds and five years of him, stomping around his room—my bare-chested manchild. “God is so GREAT, STRONG and MIGHTY! Nuffing can defeat MY GOD!!!”

Usually I have to shush him. I mean, it is bedtime, and he’s definitely not singing it like a lullaby. But I love it. My son is drawn to the might and power of God. He loves the stories of armies squashed and giants brought low.

Sometimes, I’m envious of his faith. Simple. Pure. My God is great and mighty, end of story.

But I’ve lived a life—one that’s been skirted with hardships. One where my prayers weren’t answered the way I wanted them to be. One where I suffered losses that seemed cruel and senseless. I’ve wrestled with God. Maybe I’ve come to terms with God’s love and atonement for me, sinner. But His power, might, and strength?

In Exodus 14, the Israelites find themselves in an insurmountable situation. Red Sea before them, Egyptians behind, mountains on either side. God forewarns them that He plans on bringing them to this exact impossible place where He will reveal His might (v.1-4). But when they actually come to that place and see the Egyptian army? Panic. Pure panic.

They go immediately to the worst case scenario: they will all be in un-dug graves, bodies rotting on the wilderness floor (v. 11).

A path through the sea never enters their minds.

The Israelites had been enslaved for hundreds of years. They had been crying out for rescue. They had lived through pain and deep sorrow and the murder of their infant sons. All they had to go on was a promise God had made their ancestors long ago.

Standing right there before the Sea, enemy at their heels, defeat feeling certain, and God was asking them to trust Him and to leave everything they had lost behind them once and for all.

I think I’ve had this Sunday school version of God’s power where He’s like a super hero swooping in to save this damsel in distress at the very last minute. But what happens when the worst thing happens anyways? When the illness doesn’t relent? When the loved one dies? When the months of waiting on that thing you desperately want turns into years? It’s that niggling question at the back of our mind: is God really almighty when I feel like He’s failed me? Do I keep asking for impossible things when I feel impossibly defeated?

A few years back I went through a dark season of loss. My faith felt ravaged. And the grief felt impossible.

I was standing before a Red Sea, beckoned to move forward, not knowing if I could even trust this God. How in the world could God make anything out of my losses? I mean, I tried making sense out of it, rearranging everything, trying to find a reason for it.

Thing is, when you are standing in the rubble of your broken dreams, you cannot will your own ashes beautiful. Maybe we would think peace comes when we can make sense of it. But it’s not.

Beauty for ashes—that’s a resurrection, Red Sea road kind of miracle. That’s something only an omnipotent God could do.

We try to hold God, get a handle on Him, control Him. But we weren’t meant to hold the One who holds us.

What we have to hold is faith.

Jesus talks about faith the size of a mustard seed. I think growing up in Sunday school led me to romanticize what that kind of faith looks like. But in reality, it’s a desperate hanging on, a speck of hope that maybe, just maybe, God will do all that He promises.

The whole of the gospel can be summed up like this: That God so loved us that He sent His only Son to die for us; and that Jesus Christ rose from the dead—defeating death, hell and the grave.

He is the Lord God Almighty. Omnipotent.

And we can’t separate God’s might for His love. He is both all at once.

His might and love are displayed on a humble cross when Christ’s body was quite literally divided to make a way for us, and three days later resurrected from the dead.

He leads us from death to life. He is our Red Sea Road.

The Bible doesn’t tell us we might have difficulty; it promises that we will (John 16:33, James 1:1, 1 Peter 4:12). At some point you might be looking at the ashes of your life or your dreams, wondering who this Almighty God is and why He didn’t come through for you. It might feel like you have death behind you and sea of grief you could drown in before you.

But here is my mustard seed faith, and I can testify from my own life: I cannot tell you when or what God would do with all your pain and loss. But I can tell you, in part on this side of heaven and in whole on the other side: God raises the dead to life. He who holds eternity within His grasp, holds you. He is the great Way-maker. The beauty-for-ashes Resurrector.

Our God is so great, strong and mighty. And, guys? Nothing—nothing—can defeat our God.
Amen.

Untitled design (2)Amanda is a law enforcement wife and a homeschooling mom to three. Her family has called Reality Church of Stockton home for two years. When Amanda’s not pulling her toddler off the bookshelf or explaining to picky eaters why vegetables need to be eaten, she enjoys iced lattes, bird watching, and deep conversations. She lives clinging to the hope she has in Christ that in spite of all her short-comings, she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can also find her writing her broken stories on her blog at Amanda Conquers.