Guest Post by Mark Groutas

Thoughts on Exodus by Mark Groutas:

The lessons in the story of the Exodus seem to be endless, but I’m particularly struck by how God prepares his people for freedom.  It begins with a season of withholding His presence and allowing the nation to feel the pain of slavery. For is there truly such a thing as freedom for those who do not feel the need to be free?
Once the Lord reveals himself to Moses at the burning bush, He reintroduces himself to the people of Israel through the wonders of the plagues. This is a fascinating part of the narrative, with each plague usurping the power of the egyptian gods and the magicians in Pharoah’s court. This demonstration of God’s power is as much (if not more) for the nation of Israel than for the Egyptians or Pharoah himself. God’s chosen people were living in a foreign land, with strange gods, and pagan practices. They needed a cleansing.

This is really convicting. I am described as an alien and stranger in this world (I Pet 2:11), so why do I often not feel that way? Why does the world sometimes feel cozy and friendly…like home? I need cleansing. I need transformation from a renewed mind. I often need the very same process that God took the Israelites through. And it begins with HIS demonstration that the “magic” of this world is false, that it’s gods are strange, and that He alone is faithful and true. This necessary process is why God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, making him unwilling to let the people go. He didn’t want the Israelites to be free until they had seen his power and were truly ready to embrace freedom.

Stories like this cause me to appreciate the process. I’m sure the Israelites just wanted to run out of Egypt with their hair on fire. And that’s how I feel a lot of the time. I wanna move; I wanna get stuff done; I wanna run…fast. Our culture is built for speed. Faster food, faster download times, shorter lines and shorter waits are what I want on a daily basis. If I approach my spiritual life in the same hurried manner, I’ll likely miss what He’s trying to accomplish in me along the way.
In the story, even the great Moses only saw one goal – freedom. He didn’t see God’s other goals – spiritual formation. Sanctification. He wouldn’t begin to understand these things until Chapter 20 and his encounter with God on Mt Sinai.

I’m so grateful for the Word. That we can learn from these stories and actually gain a perspective on God’s processes that even Moses didn’t have in the moment! whoa.
It encourages me to be patient and trusting. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit so let’s be sensitive to Him. The Lord’s plan is perfect, and He always accomplishes great things with or without us, so how we get there – the journey – matters as much as anything.

Steph’s response:

I have a confession to make to all of you. I really needed these words today. I’m so thankful for how God uses His Word and His people to speak to my heart. I haven’t been enjoying all of the process these last couple months. I have kind of shut down a bit on every level – emotionally, spiritually, physically – simply because I’m impatient and tired of the process. Basically, I’ve been treating God the same way my preteen treats me when she doesn’t get what she wants right when she wants it. Sheesh…

Today begins a new chapter for me in this process.

For my own daily devotional time, I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s “Here and Now.” I’d like to share with you all a passage that really spoke to me yesterday.

“So the real question is: Can we do anything to worry less and be more at peace? If it is true that we cannot change anything by worrying about it, how then can we train our minds not to waste time and energy with anxious ruminations that make us spin around inside of ourselves. Jesus says, ‘Set your heart on God’s kingdom first.’ That gives us a hint as to the right direction.”

This has been me: wasting time and energy with anxious ruminations making me spin around inside myself. My prayer for all of us is that we would set our hearts on God’s kingdom first. May His Kingdom come. May His will be done. In our hearts. In our lives. In our homes. In our city. In this world.

 

3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Mark Groutas

  1. I had to reply and thank you for this! It’s exactly where I am right now and I need to remember to look up not inward!

  2. Very beautiful and also just hit my heart in a way that has not only blessed me, but brought a true realization to my mind and soul! And if you are the Mark that was my youth pastor in Oklahoma City about 15 years ago who had a beautiful young girlfriend who also was part of our youth group, I would love to get in touch with you guys!

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