By Thann Bennett
I need to fail more. Looking back on my life to this point, I realize that I have not failed nearly often enough. I say that not as evidence of how great I am, but in fact just the opposite. It is an indictment of how rarely I have stepped outside of my own abilities and into a task where only the King can produce a victory. I have been content to mostly stick to tasks I am convinced I can complete. It is a calculation I make before I agree to start something, or to serve some-where. If my calculation tells me that I have the skills and ability to succeed, I trust in myself and I proceed. But if my calculation tells me that I will fail absent intervention from something or someone, I take a pass and move on to something more within my control.
In doing so, I forfeit the victory the King was planning. In Exodus 14, the Israelite are finally on their way out of Egypt after 430 years of slavery. It took ten plagues from God to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite go, but even then the people were not able to rest in a faith that their deliverance was in God’s hands. As soon as Pharaoh started to pursue them, the Israelite said to Moses:
Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert! (Exodus 14:11–12)
The people were terrified to fail. They were terrified of standing back to see what God would do. And who am I to blame them? Clearly, if it was left to their strength and their ability, they were about to be either slaughtered or returned to the captivity and slavery that had been their lot for nearly half a millennium. It was a dire situation, and they were wishing they had not even tried. I can relate. My flesh prefers the status quo over stepping out in faith only to fall on my face. I am so concerned with my reputation that I would rather not step out and see what the King will do. I recognize the King may come through, but what if He does not? It is often a gamble I am not willing to take.
Moses responded to the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13–14).
The message was simple: This is not about you or your power. This is about what your King will do for you.
Moses was clearly having his own doubts, because immediately after putting on a brave face for the people, he cried out to God. Moses saw the same thing the people did—they were going to be defeated. He had enough faith to put on a brave face, but not enough to believe in the deliverance that had been promised. God’s response to Moses is blunt and direct: “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelite to move on.” My paraphrase is: “I already told you what to do and that I would protect you. Now quit crying and just do it!”
You see, God wanted to create space in which He could work. He wanted to demonstrate His power in such a way that there would be no disputing Who had accomplished the victory. He wanted the Israelite to fail in their escape so that He could succeed in accomplishing it for them!
When I am not willing to step out in faith for things I am unable to accomplish on my own, I am closing the door on the best opportunities for the King to come through for me. If I am not deliberately creating space that I am insufficient to fill, I am limiting the amount of the King’s power that can be put on display. If I am only step-ping into tasks and ideas that I can handle, the world will see me when those things are accomplished. But when I step into a task that is bigger than me, and when I do so while admitting that it will take the intervention of the King to succeed, the sky is the limit! Or maybe I should say that the Red Sea is not the limit! Because when Moses agreed to walk in God’s plan for the Israelite s’ seemingly futile predicament, the sea could not hold them. The mighty King took control and made a way through the water where there had been no way before.
Moses was afraid of failing. But when God’s call to service extended into a place beyond his human ability—and into a place that risked failure—Moses answered the call. Moses chose service to the King even when he was convinced he would fail. ink of the victory that would have been forfeited had Moses chosen not to risk failure!
Before we move on, let us not miss the numerous miracles on display here. The parting of the Red Sea generally demands our attention, and understandably so. But Exodus 14 out-lines several miracles working together to provide this escape:
•The angel of God and the pillar of cloud that had been leading the Israelite moved behind them and served as a physical separation from their enemies
.•The Israelite were given light all night long while the Egyptians were cast into darkness, ensuring the two armies would not come together.
•God created confusion—and a chariot malfunction—throughout the Egyptian army, which caused the entire Egyptian army to be in the seabed when God’s mighty hand released the waters back in place on top of them. God performed miracle upon miracle, none of which would have been possible without a willingness to try the impossible. We have to be willing to step into that space. Our stories may not always be as neatly and quickly redeemed as was the Israelite’s’ crossing of the Red Sea. Sometimes our stepping out in faith into the unknown may not produce a miracle (at least that we can see). Sometimes it will feel like a failure. But we can rest in the confidence of a King who sees in full while we see only in part. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We need to have such a dependent trust in the King that we are willing to fail for Him. We need to understand that He is the omniscient, all-knowing One, and we are not. We need to be willing to step out in service to Him even with the under-standing that it may not always end in roaring success. Why? Because that creates space for the King to go to work. He is perfectly capable of accomplishing the work through a mighty miracle. Or He may have a plan that is accomplished through our human failure. Either way, we have to step out. So I challenge you to join me infailing more. I am confident that it will multiply the number of miracles we experience in our lives. It will likely also increase those times where we do not understand what the King is doing. But that is a good thing, be-cause we will have given the King room to work, and the “failure” will serve as evidence that we are operating in an obedience that extends beyond our own human capacity. It will be proof that we are discovering the King!
Thann Bennett is a longtime member of the National Community Church family in Washington, D.C. In his professional capacity, Thann is the Director of Government Affairs for the American Center for Law and Justice. He has sixteen years of high-level public policy experience, with a particular focus on the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. He is also a regular on-air contributor to the daily syndicated radio broadcast, Jay Sekulow Live! Thann originally hails from the cornfields of Central Illinois and is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. He is motivated to write by a belief that God calls those in all walks of life to draw others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
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