A few weeks ago I was reading along in Exodus 3, the passage in which God told Moses all that would happen in the process of Israel leaving Egypt. You know, when God spoke to him out of a burning bush and told him what would come to pass. Casually.
He said that Pharaoh would not let them go, and so God would stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His power. And then, when Pharaoh was broken and finally allowed them to leave Egypt, the Egyptians would be so eager for them to leave and so overwhelmed with the power of God that all the Hebrews would have to do is ask, and their Egyptian neighbors would give them gold and jewels and riches.
And it got me thinking about the obstacles that there must have been to this journey. All the things that the Hebrews said would keep them from freedom.
Obviously, there was the might of Egypt. The sheer violence of their taskmasters. But I realized that the Hebrews would have had nothing. They left in a hurry. So God provided for them in the form of the wealth of their neighbors.
I wondered about whether or not they would have used their lack of resources as a reason to stay where they were.
And I started to ask myself:
How often do we long for freedom, dream our dreams, and then, when freedom comes to us -- how often do we take a step back from it?
It frightens us.
We do not know who we will be when we take the next step.
We know that to stay is to do just that: to stay, to remain the same.
We know that staying the same is making us sick. We know it is killing us slowly, softly, whether that is through stagnation in poisonous waters or through the dark-damp of depression.
We know that staying put will be the death of us.
But we feel that fear will kill us, too.
We fear that if we step out onto the Road, make a move, that we will make a fatal error.
It's like you're frozen in place as you hide from the intruder in your house. You know that to move may save you. But it may also reveal where you are to the person who may murder you.
Really, we are afraid of making a fatal mistake. We are afraid of failing.
For those who are familiar with the Enneagram at all, I'm a Type One -- which means my primary motivation is to be good. I want to be a truly good person. And so making a mistake is a giant fear of mine. Type Ones are usually perfectionists -- we are afraid of mistakes. We fear they make us bad.
And that chills us to the bone. All of us, whatever type we are.
How much do we long for freedom -- and how afraid are we of who it will make us be?
We cannot have it both ways, but we wish we could.
We want to be comfortable, but we also know that if we stay waist-deep in the bog, it will only pull us under in the end. We want to run free and exposed upon the grass and through the forest -- but we are not ready for the way Adventure will change our lives.
Really, aren't we just all afraid of change?
Change is freaky. One of my best friends is terrified of change and admits it freely. I've never known I feared it until literally this moment of writing this essay.
The good thing is that this is normal. We have to remember that. It keeps us sane.
But we also have to remember that we can't let the fear of change keep us from motion.
We cannot use excuses that we know are excuses. That's why God gave the Hebrews the wealth of their Egyptian neighbors. He knew that one obstacle to their setting out on the road of freedom was their lack of resources. And so He provided.
I will tell you. I have looked for signs. I have seen them. It is incontrovertible. It is clear.
I am waiting for abundance. For what seems like the Right Time to my humanity.
But God told Moses to move and plan and watch Him work -- and then, He said, I will provide for you.
Is He telling us the same thing?
Adventure is stupid sometimes.
It's dreamy. But it's stupid. It makes us more uncomfortable than we thought we could be, and it stretches us until we cannot bear it.
When I invited this concept of adventure into my life I did not know what it would do to me.
I did not realize that I would look up at the sky every now and again and go, "OKAY OKAY OKAY -- I get it. I'm getting what I asked for."
Because some moments I wake up, as it were, and realize that this sucky part of my life? It's the Adventure Story in full operational mode.
And I roll my eyes and say Okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy and keep walking.
I've learned that when I can tell something is an adventure, I should lean in. Put my bony shoulder up against this wall and put all my weight on it.
Trust the Adventure and my Companion, Jesus -- even when it feels frightening.
If my life was a book -- if it was an epic tale like Lord of the Rings -- this would be the part of the book where I'm wishing the main character would just get on with it already. Would just take the steps. Because, you see, that's when the story actually begins.
The part we're interested in, anyway: when we step out onto the Road.
In the words of one Bilbo Baggins: It's a dangerous business, going out into the world. You step onto the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.
Sports fans, sometimes we don't keep our feet.
And we always always always end up somewhere we never planned.
But let me tell you this as one who has experienced grace again and again: it's always always always a better place than we could have dreamed.
The other day in church my pastor used a phrase that's stuck with me all week: the pursuit of grace.
And I asked myself: Am I running after grace? Or am I running after a way to make myself better?
We all know it's definitely the latter. I am trying to make myself into the person I want to be.
I am interested in being good. Jesus didn't ask me to be good. He asked me to be His.
And if I become good along the way -- well, then, so much the better.
To run toward grace is not to try to make myself better. It's to run to where I meet Jesus.
And I meet Jesus on the Road. I meet Him in the scary. I meet Him in the change that is alarming, when He leads me as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, licking the heavens and the stars with holy flame.
I want to run to where I know Jesus can be found: in dark nights, in long days, in weary legs and callused feet. In dreams and woe and tears and leaping for joy. On mountaintops and in green valleys, when you feel like you will never emerge again, but you are being prepared.
I'm in a valley right now. It feels like I will never come out again -- but I choose to believe I am being readied.
The knife is being whetted.
The bags are being packed, and then Jesus will take my hand and go in front of me. He will walk backwards while He holds my fingers in His, smiling at me all the while, and saying, "Sara, let's go."
This is what you've always wanted.
And all I want to say is Yes.