In our last series of articles, we considered the idea of actively participating with God. In the very beginning, we see that God creates so that creation might participate. God, the Creator and King, makes man and woman, giving them the task of multiplying and reigning over that which has been made. They are not to exploit the creation. Rather, they are to care for it wisely. The intent seems to be that the creation will dwell with God in the place where God walks “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). It’s a paradisal picture—God living in communion with humankind. Unfortunately, evil interrupts the holy plan. Adam and Eve participate in the schemes of the serpent rather than participating in the Divine love of God.
God has a plan. Or, put another way, God has a mission. But we don’t always do a good job of participating. Instead of choosing the way of wisdom and justice, we often choose the way of foolishness, selfishly putting our own needs ahead of others. This is the way that leads to chaos, disorder, and the oppression of others. The story only gets worse when we encounter the tragedy of Cain and Abel. “And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Genesis 4:8).
However, despite the persistent stubbornness of God’s creation, God continues to invite others to participate—Noah, Abraham, Moses. And the list goes on all the way to you and me. All of this should make us reflect on the notion that God is greater than we are. It is God who creates and invites, and it is God who continues to do so even when the stories of our own lives sound more like the chaos of Genesis 3-4 than the calmness of Genesis 1-2.
In the midst of failing faith, God continues to want to build relationship and bring about newness. God wants us to participate. At times, we do this quite actively. Other times, we do it rather passively, as we stand in silence and see the salvation that God brings in the face of our fear. This picture is painted beautifully in Exodus 14:10-14.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
The people “feared greatly.” Typically, when we “fear greatly,” we are prone to go back to things that are familiar, even if they are things which are not good for us. In this reading, the people are told that God will fight for them. They just have to do one thing. Be silent.
There are times in our own lives when God wants us to notice the new beginning that He is creating. May we have the courage to look ahead, stand firm, and be silent. May we see the salvation of the LORD.