There are often times I find myself wondering and questioning why certain things happen in my life.  Why did I bomb at Nationals 2 years ago?  Why did certain things happen in high school that kept me from one college and put me in another?  I always ask why as if I likely knew what was best and couldn’t imagine it being done a better way.  The reality is that I am a two-year old playing in a playground while my dad watches over me and I don’t understand why he won’t let me go play in the street or touch a piece of glass.  I can’t see the bigger picture.  But my Father can.
As I was flying to Kansas City last night I found myself in Exodus 14 re-reading the story of Moses and the Red Sea.  I have read or been read this story more times than I can count and thought I knew it backwards and forwards.  However, something caught my attention last night.  Anyone who has any background in church knows the story.  The Israelites manage (after multiple attempts) to flee Pharaoh and Egypt for the Promised Land.  When they near the Red Sea, Pharaoh is compelled to chase them down with his army of chariots.  Moses is commanded by God to make the Israelites camp on the banks of the Red Sea such that they see the Egyptians coming for them.  It’s at this point in the story that I can completely relate to the Israelites.  Their natural reaction is to immediately begin to doubt their situation and calling.  They are scared.  Duh.  I’ve sat in those shoes where something is happening that doesn’t make sense and at the time seems like the worst possible situation or outcome.
When I bombed at Nationals 2 years ago.  I left Cincinnati thinking I was done.  I was never going back to the sport.  I had given my heart and soul for that meet and was prepared to PR everything and inch closer to the ever-illusive podium.  I couldn’t understand how I would bomb with so much preparation put in and feeling as prepared as I was.  I sat where the Israelites sat.  Bewildered and confused as to why this was happening.
The Israelites however were given a clear command from the Lord.  Get up, Moses will part the Red Sea, and you will walk across to safety while the Egyptians are swept up in the water as the Sea comes back together.  However, that’s not the part of the story that caught my eye and grabbed my attention.  It what was first stated in verse 4 and later in verse 17-18 that I had missed in reading the story so many times.  God planned it this way.  He told Moses and the Israelites that he would bring Pharaoh and his men to attack the Israelites ONLY that God might be glorified in the miraculous victory over the Egyptian army.  At this point in time, the Egyptian army was the most terrifying and effective army in the world.  The odds were not in the favor of the Israelites.  That’s how God works though.  He doesn’t win when the odds are even.  He makes sure the odds are stacked 1000% against Him.  Then He wins.  Why?  The answer is in verse 18, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”  So that the world, specifically the Egyptians, might fully understand who is the God of the universe.  God was in control the whole time.  They Israelites couldn’t see the big picture.
When I decided to retire from lifting after Nationals in 2012, I had moved on.  However, a very good friend, training partner, and teammate made a video for me that ended with the final tagline to the effect that I could not go out of the sport with that as my last hoorah.  He was right.  I picked the barbell up bent on training harder, more precise, and with greater tenacity.  That next National competition was the American Open.  I won first place and made my first National podium appearance.  The year following that has been a whirlwind of excitement and growth.  The attitude I now take to training and meets is hugely due to my bombing at Nationals.  I thought I knew what was best.  I thought I was in control.  I couldn’t see the big picture.  God was in control the whole time.
The story of the Red Sea carries greater perspective and weight with the events of Nationals in my memory.  But it also comes with a challenge.  Don’t question the circumstances you find yourself in.  Thrive in them.  There is always a blessing in the battle.
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today.” Exodus 14:13