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Taking the Plunge

April 10, 2012 - 5:00 am

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” — Exodus 14:21

We all know the scene. After the children of Israel are freed from Egypt, Pharaoh has a sudden change of heart. He and his massive Egyptian army pursue the Israelites until they corner them at the Red Sea. The children of Israel panic. Moses stretches his arms out to the sea and one of the greatest miracles of all time occurs. The waters of the sea part! The Israelites are able to cross through the Red Sea on dry land.

Now rewind that scene, pause it right before the sea splits and zoom in. Jewish tradition teaches us a very powerful story about what occurred in the moments that the sea parted.

The story features a man, Nahshon, son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah. All around him his nation was in an uproar. Behind them were the Egyptians coming to forcibly take them back to Egypt. In front of them was the sea, the only thing that stood between them and their freedom. Egypt was warm and familiar. The sea was cold and unknown. It was decision time.

Everyone around Nahshon stood paralyzed with fear, not knowing what to do. Should they go back to Egypt or should they follow God into the sea? Nahshon, alone, takes the plunge. Literally. He steps into the sea but nothing happens. Undeterred, he continues up to his ankles and then his knees, but the sea does not split.

Nahshon continues onward. Now the sea is up to his chest and approaching his mouth. The sea remains the same. Finally, when the sea reaches Nahshon’s nostrils, at the last second, it splits! The children of Israel witness the great miracle and follow after Nahshon just in the nick of time.

Nahshon the son of Amminadab teaches us a powerful lesson about faith. There are times in our lives when we have to choose between something new and unknown and something old and familiar. The new opportunity seems like the better choice, yet there are absolutely no guarantees that it will work out. The familiar option is clearly less than ideal, but we know exactly what to expect. Do we take the plunge, or stay dry and safe on land?

Nahshon inspires us to jump in. Sometimes we need to take the first steps with courage and then have faith. In other words:  Do your best and let God do the rest!





     

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