book reviewprayer

Strategies to Survive Drowning

The Red Sea Rules

a book review by Pat

One of the main themes of our website is learning to suffer disappointments in a godly manner. The book I am reviewing here, “The Red Sea Rules” by Robert J. Morgan, gave me 10 strategies on how to endure suffering, that I would like to share. They are drawn from the story of Israel's walking through the Red Sea. I will be giving Morgan's own words and then added my comments in (parentheses).

“...God made a way through the sea, but your footprints were not seen.”   Psalms 77:19-20

1. Realize that God means for you to be where you are

We are where we are because God placed us there or God allowed it (because of our choices). God doesn’t always deliver us from our problems the way we want Him to. He does it His way. (Look how He did this in Exodus 14.  God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart SO THAT the Egyptians would KNOW that He was the Lord. Even today we are talking about what God DID for their escape from slavery. HIS WAY caused the Egyptians, the Jews, and now us, to see His marvelous power, which leads us to glorify Him through worship. His way of leading us through suffering refines and purifies us for our inheritance, which is reserved for us in heaven, like it says in I Peter 1:1-9)

( One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Joseph's life.  One theme to me carried out in his character and behavior is his steadfast faith in God and his attitude in the midst of each of his terrible circumstances.  When Joseph was young, some people think he was always bragging about how his father showed him favor by his gift of his coat of many colors and his constant dream of how his brothers were bowing down to him.  Was he?  Perhaps.  One thing we do know for sure in the scriptures is that these elements caused his "siblings" to be jealous, which led to their hatred and attempted murder.  Or could it be that Joseph's young heart was just more pure BECAUSE OF "his great faith in God" AND "his personality bent" which was always noticing or being appreciative of all the things happening in him and going on around him? Once in awhile a child can become a Christian at a young age, know early in life what he or she is going to do as an adult, and follow through with his or her purpose until death.  We will never know for sure the motive of Joseph's heart when he was young, but what we do know is how Joseph handled God's appointments as an adult.  He stayed an obedient, righteous man in all of the circumstances he had to patiently endure.)

So if you find yourself in a difficult spot, remember:  you are there by God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, and for His time.   And all evidence to the contrary, there's no better place to be.

2. Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief

Sometimes we can't find the answers to our dilemmas because we're asking the wrong questions.  The next time you're overwhelmed, instead of asking, "How can I get out of this mess?", try asking, "How can God be glorified in this situation?"  One's perspective is entirely changed by the spiritual realities behind that approach. 

Notice the way this develops in Exodus 14:3-4:  "Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, "They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.' Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord."

God deliberately orchestrated the Exodus events as an occasion for demonstrating the power He wields over both His enemies and the elements.  The New International Version puts it, "I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh; and all his army." 

God doesn't waste suffering.  If He leads us into impossible spots, He will deliver us in His own time, in His own way, and for His name's sake.  "Many are the afflictions of the righteous," wrote David in Psalm 34:19, "but the Lord delivers him out of them all."  Our job amid the difficulty is to learn our Lord's simple but submissive prayer.  He will gain honor for Himself over our adversarial situations.  In the process, He will leave behind such blessings as make the burdens melt away like wax in the sunshine. 

(Think back on those stories in the Bible where His obedient children suffered.  Notice what God did.)  The Lord devised ways of turning difficulties into deliverances and problems into praise.  He will glorify His name in the lives of His children, whatever their afflictions. 

(So the next time you have a problem, think of how you will be able to glorify God by telling others eventually how God worked wonders in your situation.  Waiting on God to help you resolve your mess is the hardest part, but it is well worth the wait when God can be glorified through your own personal story.) 

 

 

3. Acknowledge your enemy, but keep our eyes on the Lord

See James 4:7 where it says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”  But sometimes we get that backwards by acknowledging God and keeping our eyes on the devil, instead of acknowledging Satan and keeping our eyes on God.   (We need to stay close to God and stand up and fight Satan, so that God can be glorified. Because the devil hates God even more than he hates us, he wants to see us fail miserably. He knows which particular schemes he can use with each of us that will cause us to get downhearted. His ultimate goal is to weaken our faith and discourage others who are watching so they will quit seeking the Father. That is how Satan wins.)

4. Pray

James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. (The soul wrenching prayer of a righteous man produces much. When my husband was dying {see our book}, I would often climb up on his Hospice bed and pray. He couldn’t talk much at that time, so he would comfort me by patting me on the back, and point to Christ. We had seven years to plan for his journey to heaven. We did not dwell on the negative feelings of death. Instead we purposely took action steps by refocusing our thoughts toward the joy of collecting our inheritance with a spiritual being, Christ. How peaceful and rewarding it is when you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are going to heaven. The God with whom we had a relationship through prayer, since the day we repented for our sins and asked Jesus into our heart, was right there beside us. My husband said, from a spiritual perspective, that he couldn’t wait to finally get to heaven and collect his new body, see his loved ones who have gone on before him, and be in the arms of Jesus; but the hardest earthly part, was leaving his loved ones behind.)

5. Stay calm and confident and give God time to work

(Have you ever been falsely accused of something? My choice to dwell on staying mad will only escalate anger and make me want to fight with negative reactions, but is that how Christ responded to criticism? Of course not! I must REACT as Christ reacted, by demonstrating HOW we can love our enemy more than wanting to WIN the battle of injustice. So what can you do while you wait for God to be your vindicator? The only thing you can do is to try to communicate wisely with the accuser; but if that is not possible, then we need to let it go and give it to God by taking each thought captive every single time and choose not to dwell on the accusation.)

6. When unsure, just take the next logical step

We don’t always know the why, but we always know the how. Fear may arise, but the only fear we should entertain is sin, all the other fears are from Satan, who confuse and weaken us. (If  we haven't deliberately decided to sin, but instead we just made a wrong decision, then instead of beating ourselves up like the devil wants us to do, we need to forgive ourselves.  God can see the motive of our heart and forgives us, because He knows we made the best decision possible for what we knew at that time in our life.)

7. Envision God’s enveloping presence

(I remember one week when teaching a Bible Study, I put an empty chair in front of me where I was standing. When someone tried to sit there, I would ask them to please sit somewhere else because that chair was taken. In their mind, they were wondering who was going to be sitting there, but no one never did. Eventually, after many asked if that person was ever going to show up, I explained that Jesus was sitting there and since He is always with us, let’s try to remember this empty chair experience, envisioning Him with us wherever we are. I continued doing that for a few months to make a long-lasting impact.)  The author says that often when he prays, he looks at a nearby chair and talks to God, as if He is there.

8. Trust God to deliver in His own unique Way

(He delivered the Israelites in a way they did not expect through manna being present every day, following clouds, parting the sea, and so forth. When my deceased husband was getting heavy for me to lift, I prayed and asked God if I should move by one of my kids. Through God’s unique ways, known only to me, I was sure that I was to move by my son. How did I know? Through the unique ways God was showing me personally, weird ways when you think too long about it, but it made sense to me when specific things arose during that prayer season of asking of clarity. One, I was worrying if one of my kids would be jealous if I picked one over the other. One day my daughter said to me, “Mom, I will not be hurt if you wanted to move by my brother. Through our research of both states, we both know it would also be less expensive if you lived in Oklahoma compared to NC."  Two, my daughter’s husband’s health was fragile due to a military injury, so I felt she would maybe be burdened by helping two people at the same time. Three, during that “question season of prayer”, a threaded theme was getting my undivided attention through something that was said by a person, or with something I was experiencing, or with my upcoming assigned scripture readings in the Bible. The theme was referring to a sandy, dry or windy place or people moving to an unknown barren place. Well, my son lived in Oklahoma, where it was dry and windy and a much more barren place than the lush green in North Carolina and Tennessee. Four, we wanted to sell our house so that we could buy another house debt free. What our house in Tennessee was worth and sold for determined that we could live debt free in Oklahoma, but not in North Carolina by my daughter unless we went to a house less than 1000 square feet. Also in looking for a house while in Tennessee, I researched and prayed for a savvy real estate person. I called her, and she was exactly what I was looking for, a person who really listened to our needs and had wise business skills. With the new buyer for our Tennessee house, I felt like they were asking for too many financial adjustments. The last straw was asking for another $200 to be dropped. My Oklahoma realtor said to me, “Pat, how soon do you want to move? Could I suggest a compromise that you consent to their last request of $200, but also tell them you can’t justify losing any more money?” It worked. It sold and my realtor even found us a new, 1600 square foot home near my son. Weird? Yes, but it isn’t as weird as what Moses did by turning a stake into a snake, and all the other things He did. God gave me specific answers to my questions in His unique ways that were known only to me.)

9. View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future

I am paraphrasing a story the author shared in his book by Pastor John Bisango. He described a time when his 5 year old daughter asked for him to build her a doll house. John nodded at her request and promised to build her one. He went back to reading his book, but kept glancing out his window to see his daughter going back and forth from his house to the back yard. He asked his wife what she was doing and she said, “Oh you promised to build her a dollhouse, so she is getting ready for it.” John tossed aside that book, raced to the lumberyard for supplies, and quickly built that dollhouse. John had asked why, and when he saw her simple, childlike faith in his promise, he had to follow through. (John's current "promise" crisis, as a father, was a faith builder for the future.)

10. Don’t forget to praise Him

(I try to make a habit of praising God for those times when I can see how He has worked in my life. Don’t we all feel good when a family member, friend, or acquaintance praises us for something we did for them? We think, “Wow, they noticed that I went out of my way to do such and such." Since Genesis says to me that God created us for fellowship with Him because He was lonely, that verse tells me that He cherishes communication from me. Remembering to thank and praise Him for what He has done for me shows God that I have noticed His intervention in my life. Billy Graham wrote a book on angels and talked about the different jobs of the different types of angels. He referred to a scripture where a specific group of angels sit at God’s throne and their only job is to continually praise Him. Since God created the heavenly host for specific reasons and one of those reasons were to praise God for what He is doing, then that reveals to me that He also appreciates us drawing attention to Him for what He has done for each of His children.

I hope the next time you encounter a difficult time in your personal life, you will remember some of the author’s strategies and perhaps change the way you might deal with them from now on. Don’t forget the purpose behind our trials and testing. It is to glorify our Deliverer.)

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