How many times have you watched “The Great Escape”? The famous film of the ’60’s, starring Steve McQueen charts the meticulous planning that went into helping many British POW’s escape from the notorious Stalag Luft III camp. A great idea, but of the 76 soldiers who made the attempt, only 3 avoided recapture. Not such a great outcome. I guess the film is a celebration of the effort, rather than the achievement.
I find it slightly curious that in Exodus 12:14-20, God gave the instructions for how the people were to celebrate the events of the Passover and exodus from Egypt in the years to come, before it had actually taken place. Like planning for someone’s birthday party before they’ve been born. I probably vastly underestimate just what a challenge all this was to the Israelites. They had been slaves for generations, and no doubt had a ‘slave mentality’, where they had stopped believing in themselves long ago. To begin with, they had welcomed Moses’ proclamation that God was going to set them free (Exodus 4:30), but then fallen at the first hurdle when Pharaoh had not been so obliging (Exodus 5:20). No doubt the many miraculous plagues had bolstered their confidence in God’s ability to set them free, and Moses’ ability to lead them into that freedom, but they were still slaves, with slavish thinking.
God was changing their thinking. He wanted to paint a strong picture for them to take hold of – of life ever after: free, celebratory, wholly committed and obedient to God. He was filling in all the details for them to dwell on, drink in, consume, so that they might be transformed from slaves of Egypt into a people free to worship and serve their God with wholehearted, open abandon. He needed them to know it was a sure thing, to believe it, and hold on to it solidly so they could stand sure when difficulties arose. To become the nation he had planned for them to be; a light for the world.
Isn’t that what God wants for us? To be free to worship only him. To escape from mediocrity into achieving all that he has planned for us. To enjoy life in full measure as he intended from the beginning. To revel unfettered in the joy of knowing him, serving him, loving him, sharing life with him. We are on the winning side. The victory has already been won. It’s a sure thing for us too. But we need to grasp it.
When confidence fails, get a firm hold of all God has promised you. Ask him to show you the details. Dwell on them. Celebrate them. Enjoy them. He wants you to be free. He wants you to succeed. He is giving it to you. It’s yours, take hold of it.