“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NLT
True enough, I was crafting a scene where the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea. The emotions ran high among the crowd of people in the scene and my writer’s adrenalin was pumping too.
I always used to think that the Israelites marched across the dry ground in an orderly fashion with drilled precision, almost like a great army. But as I really wondered and prayed about it, a much different picture emerged.
The people had just escaped their slavery in Egypt. But they still were acting and thinking as slaves. They followed Moses hoping for a better life and because the God of Israel was “winning” at this point. They were on an emotional high.
But the minute they were backed into a corner with their enemies on one side and the Red Sea on the other, many of them thought their God had suddenly turned on them too, just like he had come against the Egyptians with the 10 plagues.
A lack of trust is characteristic of those who have been severely wounded by abuse or slavery. So when the pathway through the sea opened up, I imagine many of them passed through between the walls of water in a BIG hurry, still afraid and not fully trusting their God to keep the water bottled up on either side of them. They probably looked back often to be sure God kept his cloud between them and the Egyptians.
After 4oo plus years of slavery, they didn’t really KNOW their God deeply and intimately.True, they saw his acts – how he sent the plagues against their enemies, and even how he opened up the sea to make a way of escape. But their internal wounds prevented them from really knowing, trusting and loving him.
God had to provide their basic daily needs of food and water, preserve their clothes and tents, and constantly protect them from their enemies – just like a loving parent cares for a newborn – before their trust began to be restored.
It would take 40 years of tramping around in the wilderness for them to begin to know him and love him with every fiber of their being as Moses commands them here in Deuteronomy.
Most of us have been hurt by death of a loved one, life events or people to some degree. It takes a lifetime to heal and restore the childlike trust necessary to love God with all our hearts.
God only asks that we commit to the process of healing and growing so we can become strong in our faith, our trust and knowledge of him. As we remain open to him, he will work in our lives, healing the hurts ad fears and teaching us to know him fully and deeply. We will learn to know his ways like Moses did, and not merely see the things he does.
Father, help me keep my heart open to you so that I might learn to really know you and love you with all my heart, soul and mind. Amen.