Grace and Peace to you.
Usually you plan a party after a big victory. But as Moses was preparing the people to flee Egypt, God instructed them how to celebrate the Passover. God held the party before the event even occurred. The party itself was the first step in their liberation: the blood from the lamb eaten at the feast would mark the houses which the angel of death would pass over and not afflict; the plague wold trigger their release.
If there’s anything that God has as an agenda, it’s setting people free. God brings the people out of “Egypt,” which is understood in the Hebrews Bible as “a narrow place,” into a “broad and spacious place” flowing with milk and honey. God brings us out.
We are to “live peaceably with all,” and we never return evil for evil. If someone sins against us we tell them of the hurt but stay in relationship. However, if the relationship is abusive or oppressive, God’s will is clear: God wants us out of there. God wants us to be free. The story of the Exodus is about God’s desire to free us from all sorts of “narrow places” in our lives: political and economic injustice, abusive relationships, addictions, coercive religion, and all kinds of life-diminishing situations. God judges the forces of oppression, and is is not polite about it.
The trick is, God doesn’t just say a word and suddenly we’re free. We have to go. We have to pack our bags and get out of Egypt. We have to choose to not cooperate with oppressive systems, or confront addictions, or accept forgiveness, or leave abusive relationships, or challenge our assumptions or face our fears. “This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand” (Ex. 13.11). Be ready to roll.
Even in situations that we can’t escape, God draws us toward freedom. Even in prison, Nelson Mandela was a free man, because he knew it. He was free of his captor’s fear and their narrow mindset, narrow view of the future. It’s never easy. The promise of Exodus is not that we will succeed, but that God is on our side. It’s that assurance, before the fact, that gives us courage. God has already set the party for when we get free.
Where are the narrow places in your life where God wants to set you free? What are the ideas and fears that enslave you? What are the prejudices, resentments or expectations by which you narrow other people’s lives? What are the oppressive forces you comply with in personal relationships, in the economic sphere, in the political world? How will you begin to say “No” to them?
Get your walking shoes on, and prepare for a feast. For if you let God mess around in your life, you are about to become a little more free. Maybe even a lot.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes