There is an old Jewish folk tale about the Chief of the Tribe of Judah at the time of the Exodus, a man named Nashon. As the story goes, when the people of Israel came to the edge of the Red Sea, they found themselves boxed in with the Egyptian Army closing fast. The whole nation freaked out and gave up all hope. They had the Sea before them, and an unbeatable army behind. As they stood paralyzed with fear, bold Nashon walked straight out into the water and when the water got to his nose, the sea parted. He was a bold and fearless man, and a man of great faith.
Now, we know that the biblical record of the parting of the Red Sea is much different. Exodus 14:21 says that the sea parted when Moses obediently lifted his staff, as The Lord had commanded him. God had told them that all they needed to do was be still and trust him, and he would fight for them (Exodus 14:14). He did, and the sea parted, and in the end all of the Egyptians went for a terminal swim. God did that.
But, the Nashon story is a cool thought. What if…? People love folk heroes. Robin Hood, King Arthur, and the embellished stories of American pioneers like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett all give evidence that we love heroes, and if none are provided we will make up our own. The stories of war heroes Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell have turned into blockbuster successes because we love men who refuse to lose heart, refuse to despair—even in the face of the most adverse circumstances—and fight for victory. Bloody, sweaty, dirty, and exhausted, these men win the day.
One characteristic of Gospel Man is that he will always see opportunity in any circumstance—even when others see only despair. The Gospel dad who has bills stacking up and a wolf at the door won’t despair, but, rather, he will see the opportunity for his family to learn deeply of God’s faithfulness. The Gospel employee who is facing a layoff in the middle of company cutbacks will see the opportunity to show his coworkers in Who lies his true faith and joy. The Gospel kid, who faces the ugly horrors of her parent’s divorce, will rejoice in the pain, knowing that Jesus will NEVER leave her. The Gospel spouse knows that it is never too late for The Lord to miraculously save a marriage.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed and crucified, the disciples abandoned him. The Jewish leaders were gaining momentum, the Romans became involved, and the despair of it all overwhelmed Christ’s most faithful friends and disciples. However, it was in the despair of his Crucifixion that the miracle of the Resurrection occurred. Never has despair given way to opportunity like the Cross gave way to the grave, which gave way to the Risen Lord. In that morning of Resurrection, Christ conquered death, but he also brought us with him.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. —Romans 8:37.
In Christ we have conquered death and sin and that fact should give us a competitive edge in life. Christians should be opportunists and the most hyper-optimistic of all people.
When life gets tough, you can either stand there on the edge of the sea and shake and gnaw your fingernails as the enemy approaches, or you can walk into the water. But before the water is to your nose, God will show himself faithful, and THAT, will be your testimony to a despairing world.