Emily Belle Freeman



One Step Backward

Exodus 29:31 - Exodus 33:12

Do you find yourself asking how could this have happened?  Really, how hard could it be?

Oh, Israel, are you so quick to forget the bondage, the plagues, the parting of the red sea?  The cloud and the pillar of light?  The crossing of the river bed on dry ground?  How about the manna, or even the pigeons?

Because it seems like the manna would have kept appearing every morning of the 40 mornings Moses was upon the mount.  Did it become too commonplace, these miracles in the midst of the ordinary?

Is it so hard to walk forward, to follow the Lord, to obey?

"Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:  They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them."  (Exodus 32:7-8)

I can't help but focus on one phrase, "they have turned aside quickly out of the way."

And I am discouraged by Israel's choice


I take a good hard look at my own life.

And I realize, I do that.  Sometimes I turn aside quickly out of the way.  Because moving from where I am to where I need to be is often harder than I thought.  I make the choice for the better.  I feel the confirmation as I press forward. But then the stretching becomes painful.  Staying the course becomes exhausting.  I look at where I was before and it seems familiar, and easier, and more comfortable.  And so I turn aside.  Just for a little break.

It can happen so quickly.

For just one moment I can understand Israel's fear that their prophet has disappeared and isn't going to come back.  I can understand the disappointment in the eyes of a brother as he asks, "What did this people unto thee, that thou brought so great a sin upon them?" (Exodus 32:21)  I can hear Moses begging the Lord to give Israel one more chance. Another try.

I know that fear, that disappointment, that discouragement, that plea.

And then the Lord answers.

"I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name."  (Exodus 33:17)

And my thoughts fill with grace, and how it applies to sanctification.

The Bible Dictionary explains that grace is a divine means of help or strength, an enabling power after we have expended our own best efforts, assistance that we otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to our own means. Immediately one thing becomes clear to me ––I do not have to move from where I am to where I need to be alone or by my own means. The Lord will press forward with me.  When the stretching becomes painful He will be my help and my strength.  When staying the course exhausts me, He will become my enabling power.  He knows me.  He knows my name.  I am not alone.

There is comfort in that knowledge.

Therein I find strength.

So I will move forward with the Lord by my side...

"...having not the smallest desire to go one step backward."  (Mary Fielding Smith)


Emily Freeman