Moses, Crazy Faith, and Waiting for God

I wrote this book called Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives. In it, I lift some characters from the Bible and from life and

 

Crossing of the red sea
Crossing of the red sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

talk about the incredible, crazy faith they had to have had in order to do what they did.

 

What I have come to realize, however, is that crazy faith, or having crazy faith, does not mean one does not feel fear or anxiety as he or she waits and works for God to “show up.” I have come to recognize something that I have dubbed “the Red Sea moment” that all bouts of crazy faith must have.

 

This “Red Sea moment” is, of course, about Moses. The Bible is good about telling stories without getting into the “meat,” or the human factor …of being human as one waits for divine intervention. Moses has been told by God to lead the Israelites  to The Promised Land. What should have been 11 days, two weeks at most, turned out to take 40 years. No doubt when they finally reached the Red Sea (or, more correctly, the Sea of Reeds), they were all ready to get on with their lives.

 

That desire would have been shared by Moses, maybe even more so, since he had been leading the people for so long!  Moses had been roped into the job of leading the Israelites through the wilderness by God, and he had relied on the voice and direction of God throughout the journey, albeit he acted in frustration and not faith when he hit a rock that God told him to merely speak to, a breach in faith that cost Moses getting into the Promised Land.

 

So, maybe Moses thought about what his frustration and doubt had wrought for him as concerns that rock as he now stood on the bank of the Red Sea. Can’t you see him? Standing there. holding a rod over the vast body of water, because God told him the waters would part?  There he stood, as the Israelites, murmured against him …and as the Egyptians got closer and closer. Moses and the others could hear the hoofs of the soldiers’ horses, and might have been able to feel the earth vibrate and tremble as “the enemy” made its way to the exact place where Moses and the Israelites stood.

 

But stand there he did. With the rod in his hand, holding it out “over the water,” which would only have been over the edge of the sea, ebbing and flowing onto the land. How crazy is that?  Moses most assuredly had doubts and fears….but he chose to believe that God would do what God had said He would do. And God …did.

 

That’s a wonderful story …but the point is that before there was the parting of the Sea there was probably a trembling of Moses’ very soul. Where was God? And when was God coming?  His disobedience and frustration, which led him to hit a rock that God had merely told him to speak to, convinced him that God was 1) present, even when we don’t know it, 2) unimpressed with disobedience based on doubt, and 3) eager to show His/Her children that He was in fact, God.

 

The Red Sea moment had to have been terrifying for Moses.

 

Our “Red Sea” moments are terrifying to us as well. When we stand on the bank of a “sea” or on the edge of a “precipice,” needing God and believing God will come to us because God sees where we are standing and knows the situation we are in. when we can hear the “hoofs of the horses” getting closer and closer to us, we are being allowed to feel what Moses most probably felt.

 

The key is to “stand our ground” while we wait for God. That is hard and that is scary …but that is what God would require, if the Bible is to be believed.

 

The edge of the Red Sea, waiting in faith for God to “part the water”  in our lives so that we can get to another place, perhaps THE place God has put in place for us, is not a comfortable place to be. We may even look at it as a test to see if we have faith or just give lip service to the same. Crazy faith means having stilled voices but enlarged spirits that are making room for God to do a new thing.

 

Moses, in spite of feeling terror for sure, and worry about what the Israelites were thinking about him and what they would say if the Egyptians got there before the waters parted. Hr might have been seen mouthing  quiet prayers as he waited for God.

 

Many people have waited, like Moses, swallowing their fear and trying, working, to regurgitate their faith. Such regurgitation of faith has its own rewards.

 

A candid observation …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Personal Story of Crazy Faith

English: en:Mary McLeod Bethune
English: en:Mary McLeod Bethune (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am in the midst of my own “crazy faith” experience, and it is so intense that I thought I’d better write about it!

For those of you who do not know, I wrote a book called Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives. In the book, I talk about people, including Moses, Mother Teresa, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Washington and Emily Roebling, who built the Brooklyn Bridge. I talked about their amazing, crazy faith, believing that something most people deemed crazy and impossible to be absolutely possible.

It was their crazy faith, I wrote, that drove them.

The image that sticks with me this day is that of Moses, standing at the Red Sea, having only his faith that is telling him that somehow, he and the Israelites will get to the other side before they are trounced upon by the Egyptians. And I am thinking of the crazy faith that Mother Teresa had as she worked and lived amongst the poor, believing that all she needed would be provided and that she and her nuns would be not only all right, but taken care of by this God who had given the vision.

Well, it seems God has jokes. I am living my own “crazy faith” experience, as I just wrote. We are doing a CDF Freedom Schools® program and we don’t have near the money we need to do it! All we have is God …and crazy faith.

Being in this situation is making me understand, not from an intellectual point of view, but from a visceral place, what “crazy faith” is.  I see the stares people give me, the ones who know how little money we have. I see the doubt in their eyes; I can imagine the conversations they have when I am not around. I can only imagine what kinds of stares Moses got, or Mother Teresa, or Emily Roebling as she took over the brass tacks of getting that Brooklyn Bridge built as her husband lay ill. I can imagine how Mary McLeod’s stomach must have turned as she baked sweet potato pies to get money to give to a man for a piece of land she knew was to be hers, in order to build a school for kids that nobody wanted or believed in.

I think the skin must have peeled from their knuckles, figuratively speaking, as they looked “impossible” in the face, and yet they kept going.

My knuckles are skinless, but I have not heard God say anything like, “Oops! I told you the wrong thing.” No, what stirs in my soul is the plight and condition of too many black, brown and poor children, in public schools that are not really serving them well. I see little kids, pre-third grade, with eyes wide open, expectant and eager to learn, only to be disappointed by their educational experience and the fact that they feel, that early, this thing that circulates in our society that tells them that they are inferior, second-class citizens. I see their faces, and I hear God saying, “keep moving.”

CDF Freedom Schools have a track record of producing children who, no matter how poor, learn to read and learn to love to learn. In its literature, the program says that the program has been called “a curriculum of hope.” The Freedom School environment is one where children who have lived with neglect from home and society feel a safe, warm, nurturing place, interacting with people who believe in them and who remind them that they really can do anything they want. The integrated reading curriculum, the culturally relevant books …the entire program is a testament to what real investment in black, brown and poor children can do.

It has been shown that if children do not learn how to read, they begin to “act out” by third grade, and many face lives of, as Thoreau said, “quiet desperation,” trying to find their way, their voice, in the world. Many simply end up on a path of destruction; CDF has identified the “cradle to prison” pipeline, which too many children wind up in …largely because they cannot read.

Freedom Schools challenge the notion that these children cannot learn, and they have statistics to show that they are on the right track. About 65 percent of all children who participate in these schools show dramatically improved reading scores. Hooray for the proof…

If nothing else, I have a passion for our children, for any child who is left to the side and neglected. I hate it when reports come out saying how poorly African-American children do in school, because I know that our children are just as capable as other children. They are just working from a different paradigm… I so desperately want to have a foot in the door of making a difference for these children. Last year, over 12,800 attended Freedom Schools, nationally. This year, our 50 students will be among the number. That is the goal…

And so God whispers to me, “keep going.” Tears roll down my face, I get so nervous. I wonder if Moses cried, or if Mary McLeod Bethune cried? If they didn’t, I cry for them…because if they felt this pull, this pressure, that comes before God acts, I’m sure they wanted to cry, even if they didn’t. At the end of the day, it was their faith in God that made them stay the course.

They are my role models, and the God who has jokes …is forever my guide.

A candid observation