A few hardy souls live year-round on an island in Lake Superior. It is often icebound in the northern hemisphere winter.
When the ferry boat can no longer push through the thickening ice, residents pray for an ice road. Usually County Road H is plowed to the mainland across the iced-over water.
Stepping or driving onto the ice road when the GPS is crying “Warning—no road! Turn back now!” can be unsettling. But there are many reasons to cross the water: grocery and supply runs, family emergencies, work, or to escape the cabin fever of being trapped in a beautiful but tiny frozen island world—a privileged run for freedom.
The Israelites have a powerful reason to step into the uncertainty of a road through water: to escape centuries of enslavement and for a chance to repair their history and destiny as God’s people. Pharaoh also has reasons, perhaps related to repairing his own sense of destiny.
What plays through the imaginations of Israelite mothers clutching their children, walking a pathway with waters bearing in on either side? Do some Egyptian soldiers pause at the tenuousness of the situation and then choose to follow orders?
As a resident of the Lake Superior Island, I am asked how I dare to venture onto the ice road. I venture onto the ice road not because there is no risk involved with a skin of ice over deep, cold water, but because I trust the ones who tend the road with their generations of experience.
Perhaps some of the Israelites understand the tides and winds. But most likely they take the risky steps into that waterway in a desperate bid for freedom and because of trust in their leader and their God.
God of the risky road to freedom, teach us to trust and walk for the freedom of all. Amen.
Again this week, Exodus tells a story about Moses that is retold in the psalm. The angel of the Lord protects the Israelites and allows them to cross the sea on dry ground, but their enemies are swept away. The psalmist recalls this glorious event. The forces of nature tremble and bow before the presence of God, and the people are delivered. Paul recognizes that there are matters of personal preference or conscience that are not hard and fast rules. Some will feel freedom in areas that others do not, and we are not to judge each other for these differences. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew that highlights the danger of hypocrisy. We who have been forgiven so generously by God have no right to judge others for minor offenses.
Read Exodus 14:19-31. When has the path of faith seemed risky? How have you trusted God and others’ wisdom along the way?
Read Psalm 114. How do you listen and act to repair the story of God’s love for the whole world?
Read Romans 14:1-12. When have you recognized something as more important than your being right? How has that recognition shaped your faith?
Read Matthew 18:21-35. How do you recognize your own wounds—or those you have inflicted on others—in this parable? How might this parable help you to repair these wounds or the relationships attached to the wounds?
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